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Full text of "Some Irish yesterdays"

SOME IRISH 



AND 

ROSS 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2013 



http://archive.org/details/someirishyesterdOOsome 



SOME IRISH 
YESTERDAYS 



BY THE SAME AUTHORS 



Some Experiences of an Irish R.M. 
With 31 Illustrations by E. CE. 
Somerville. Crown 8vo, 6s. 

All on the Irish Shore : 

Irish Sketches. With 10 Illustrations 
by E. CE. Somerville. Crown 8vo, 6s. 

The Real Charlotte 

Crown 8vo, 3s. 6d. 
The Silver Fox 

Crown 8vo, 3s. 6d. 
An Irish Cousin 

Crown 8vo, 6s. 
Slipper's A B C of Fox-hunting 

By E. CE. Somerville, M.F.H. With 

Illustrations in Colour by the Author. 

4to, boards, 10s. 6d. net. 



LONGMANS, GREEN AND CO. 




"SHE FOUND THE IDEA HIGHLY HUMOROUS' 



SOME IRISH 
YESTERDAYS 

/ / /ZD c 

BY / r-S-JkC-Z^f ^ 

E. CE. SOMERVILLE 

AND 

MARTIN ROSS 

AUTHORS OF 
"THE REAL CHARLOTTE," "SOME EXPERIENCES 
OF AN IRISH R.M.," "ALL ON THE IRISH SHORE," 
ETC. ETC. 



ILLUSTRATED BY 
E. CE. SOMERVILLE 



SECOND IMPRESSION 



LONGMANS, GREEN AND CO. 

39 PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON 
NEW YORK AND BOMBAY 
I906 

All rights reserved 



CONTENTS 



I'AGE 

An Outpost of Ireland i 

Picnics 33 

Boon Companions 49 

The Biography of a Pump 67 

Hunting Mahatmas . . . ... . .79 

A Patrick's Day Hunt 91 

Alsatia 121 

"In Sickness and in Health r ' .... 137 

Horticultural 165 

Out of Hand 1S3 

A Record of Holiday 201 

Lost, Stolen, or Strayed 221 

Children of the Captivity 237 

Slipper's ABC of Fox-Huntinu . . . .251 



The Authors desire to thank the Editors of 
the Magazines and Periodicals in which the 
following Sketches have appeared, for their 
permission to reprint them here; and they wish 
also t& acknowledge the courtesy of Messrs. 
Constable & Co. in permitting the reproduction 
of "A Patrick's Day Hunt." 

October 1906 



ILLUSTRATIONS 



PAGE 



" She found the idea highly humorous" . . Frontispiece 

Kilronan Bay To face 15 

An A ran Fisherman M 16 

"White houses clustered round a fragment of bastion " ,, 20 

" The outline of Connemara was still sharp" . . 21 

The Elder Turf-Boy 57 

An August Afternoon ,,38 

Rickeen . 52 

i?oss La&£ ,, 74 

" 27*0 hovering horde vacillates no longer " . .84 

M ^4 voice fell like a falling star 99 88 

" / wash meself every Sathurday morning" ... 94 

* It's all would be about it, she'd break the side car /" . 99 

" The like o' the crowd that was in Kyleranny " . to lace 99 

u He's gone North agin !* 112 

11 The Widow Brinckley faced him the same as Jeffrey 

faced his cat' 1 f ace 117 

11 The villyan wheeled into the yard as nate as a 

bicycle" 118 

" Sending his wild voice abroad" . . . „ 126 

Old Michael 126 



viii ILLUSTRATIONS 

PAGE 

" Ancient widowhood and spinsterdom" .... 129 
" What have ye on yer noa-se " . . . To /ace 151 

" She's the liveliest of them, God bless her!" . . 153 
"And cabbages ! %i said the mount ainy man . 176 
The Candidate . . . , , . 192 

"A man must wote the way his priest and bishop HI tell 

him 11 195 

Facing America .,210 

In West Carbery ,,217 

Patsey Sweeny . . . . . . „ 226 

Mrs. Sweeny „ 227 

"In a lonely cottage" „ 241 

Children of the Captivity „ 249 

Slipper's ABC of Fox-Hunting * 253-271 



AN OUTPOST OF IRELAND 



AN OUTPOST OF IRELAND 

" Is it a bath on Twelfth Day ? Sure no 
one would expect that, no more than on a 
Sunday ! " 

Twelfth Day was accordingly added to 
Miss Gerraghty s list of Bath Holidays — 
that is to say, the list allotted to Miss 
Gerraghty s visitors. Judging from appear- 
ances, her private list was composed of one 
infinite bath holiday ; indeed, she has been 
heard in the kitchen announcing in clear 
tones her opinion of "them thrash of baths" 
to an audience whose hands and faces wore 
a sympathetic half-mourning. Nature, we 
were given to understand, had intended 
Miss Gerraghty to be a lady ; a fate more 
blind to the fitness of things decreed that 
she should serve tables in a Galway lodging- 
house, a position in which higher destinies 



4 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

are likely to be overlooked. Some touches 
of dignity remained hers by an immutable 
etiquette; no cap had ever found footing 
upon her raven fringe ; a watch chain took 
the place of the ignoble white apron. 
Chiefest of all prerogatives, she was addressed 
as " Miss Gerraghty " by the establishment, 
an example so carefully set by her brother, 
the proprietor, as to suggest that her dowry 
was mingled with the funds of the manage- 
ment. 

With these solaces she doubtless fed her 
inner need of refinement, even while she 
launched the thirteenth trump of repartee at 
the woman who came to sell turkeys, or 
broke a lance in coquetry with the coal man. 
Such episodes were freely audible to the 
sitting room by the hall — indeed, the woman 
with the turkeys finally thrust her flushed 
face and the turkey's haggard bosom round 
the door, in an appeal to Caesar that made 
the rooftree ring. These things occur in 
Galway, with a simplicity that is not often 
met with elsewhere. 

There was an afternoon when a native of 
the Islands of Aran penetrated to the hearth- 
rug of Miss Gerraghty s front sitting-room, 



AN OUTPOST OF IRELAND 5 

in the endeavour to plant upon its occupants 
a forequarter of mutton that smelt of fish, 
and was as destitute of fat as the rocks of 
its birthplace. Even the Aran mans assur- 
ance that it was "as sweet as sugar," could 
not relax by a line the contempt with which 
Miss Gerraghty, when summoned to judg- 
ment, surveyed the dainty and its owner. 
In course of the discussion, she took occasion 
to inform the company that she herself could 
only c< eat ram mutton by the dint of the 
gravy," which bore, as it seemed, somewhat 
darkly upon the matter, but had the effect of 
deepening the complexion of the Aran man 
by quite two shades of maroon, as he hoisted 
his unattractive burden to his frieze-clad 
shoulder and removed himself. 

Miss Gerraghty then stated that them 
Aran people had a way of their own and a 
sense of their own, like the Indians, and 
that a gentleman friend of hers who travelled 
in tea, had once been weather-bound in 
Aran and had had a bad stomach ever 
since. She then retired to the kitchen, 
where the narrative of the rout of the 
Aran Islander held, for the space of ten 
enjoyable minutes, an audience swelled by 



6 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 



the addition of the washerwoman and the 
baker's boy. 

The incident passed, yet the phrase "a 
way of their own, and a sense of their own 
— like the Indians," hung hauntingly in the 
memory. 

Any attempt to portray Marino Cottage 
would be incomplete without mention of its 
consort, Ocean Prospect, an affiliated estab- 
lishment, spoken of in the household as 
" Opposite," from which, at any hour of the 
day or night, uncertain numbers of Miss 
Gerraghty's nieces crossed the road to 
Marino Cottage, laden, like ants, with 
burdens varying from a feather bed to a 
kettle of boiling water. A flavour of the 
life of the "Swiss Family Robinson" was 
thus imparted, Ocean Prospect filling the 
position of the wreck, which, as the virtuously 
brought up should remember, yielded fresh 
butter, kegs of gunpowder, and bedroom 
slippers with equal promptness. Miss 
Gerraghty's nieces occupied undefined and 
interchangeable positions in both households, 
from Bedelia, who played the piano, and on 
Saturdays crimped her hood of auburn hair, 
to Bridget Ellen, who at seven years of age 



AN OUTPOST OF IRELAND 7 

could discern a stale herring and tell the fish- 
woman so. Like Goldsmith, they left nothing 
untouched, and there was nothing that they 
touched that they did not adorn, with genial 
finger-mark or the generously strewn cinder. 
Their hats perched like mange-stricken 
parakeets in the hall, their witticisms 
drew forth the admiring yells of the kitchen 
audience from breakfast till bed time, the 
creaking of their boots was as the innumerable 
rendings of glazed calico, or the delirium of 
a corncrake. The Holy-days of the Roman 
Catholic church were observed by them 
with every honour, and with many varieties of 
evening party ; and it is a matter for mingled 
thankfulness and regret that they observed 
them, for the most part, " Opposite." 
Assuredly Bedelia, with a clean face, playing 
dance music, would have been a spectacle 
hardly less memorable than Miss Gerraghty 
and her Sunday boots circling in a waltz and 
creaking through a quadrille, or sipping a 
glass of port with the delicacy befitting the 
noblesse. Yet with three Holy-days in one 
fortnight it might have proved excessive. 

Miss Gerraghty rises irrepressibly into 
the foreground of these winter days, but 



8 



SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 



Christmas week in Gal way Town remains an 
impression both salient and characteristic. 
During its wet and miry days the country 
people moved in a slow and voluble throng 
through streets and shops, indifferent to 
weather, and time and space, while the sleety 
storm roared of shipwreck above the rooftops, 
and the wearied young gentlemen behind 
the counters held their own against the old 
women with a philosophy perfected in the 
afflictions of many market days. 

" Four an* tinpince ! " shouts an old woman 
in a short scarlet petticoat and a long blue 
cloak, scornfully thumbing a pair of boots 
and slapping them down on the counter. 
She traduces them, minutely, to a party of 
friends, who, being skilled in the role expected 
of them, implore her not to waste her valuable 
time on such unworthy objects. The sales- 
man has placed himself upon a bench, with 
his legs extended along it, his eyes on the 
ceiling, and his arms folded ; his lips repeat 
occasionally the formula " Five shillins ! " 
otherwise he remains as remote as the Grand 
Lama of Tibet. 

" You're too tight with me ! " laments the 
proprietor of a cartload of apples, in pathetic 



AN OUTPOST OF IRELAND 9 

appeal to a customer. "God knows I'm not 
tight ! " responds the customer, with even 
superior pathos, "but the times is scroogin' 
meself ! " 

It is, perhaps, the leading draper who 
endures most. All day long the blue cloaks 
and the bony elbows jostle against his 
counters, disparaging hands subject his 
calicoes and his flannels to gruesome tests, 
his plush work-bags and scent-cases are 
handled uncomprehendingly and flung aside ; 
acrid jibes are levelled at his assistants, who, 
to do them justice, show a practised tartness 
in rejoinder. Through the noise and the smell 
of stale turf smoke a large musical-box 
hammers and tinkles forth the "Washington 
Post." 

Late in the wild darkness of the January 
evenings the cry M Will thu gull-a-wallia ? " 
(sic) ("Are you going home?") passes from 
group to group in the streets. It is far on 
into the night before the carts with their load 
of sleepy and drunken people cease to stagger 
and clatter along the bleak roads that take 
them home. Beaten with snow, blinded with 
rain, the holiday season wears itself out 
in darkness, dirt, and inconvenience, after 



io SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

the manner of such seasons, churches and 
public houses presenting the only open 
doors in the shuttered streets. All day the 
electric light hung its fervid loops of white 
fire up in the roof of the church of St. 
Nicholas, unearthly, coldly intense, suiting 
well the spirituality of arches and pillars, 
loftily interclasping through the storms of 
centuries. The tattered colours of the 
Connaught Rangers droop on either side of 
the chancel arch, shreds of mellow colour 
against the grey limestone ; they say things 
that are moving to a Galway heart. Out 
where the long Sea Road follows the shore of 
Galway Bay, the great winds press heavily 
against the windows of Marino Cottage, and 
the little one-horse trams glide on the 
desolate shining road like white-backed 
beetles. 

The year strengthened and the days 
lengthened over misty seas ridged with 
angry white. Out where the murky west 
held the Islands of Aran in its bosom, the 
sunsets came later day by day. Once, and 
memorably, a dishevelled and flying pageant 
of green and lurid pink glowed, like the torn 
colours in the church, beneath the darkening 



AN OUTPOST OF IRELAND n 

roof of cloud ; in its heart I saw the Aran 
steamer, labouring on the dark horizon of 
climbing waves. 

• • • • • 

It was February when Circumstance took 
me in her hand and flung- me across two seas 
into the blue and gold weather and the 
purple and silver mountains of the Depart- 
ment of " Pyrenees Orientales and May 
had come before I was again in London, 
shivering in a cold rain that dropped acridly 
out of the dirty fog, the orphan rain of 
London, that knows no previousness of 
clouded hill, no dignity of broad-sailed mists 
moving up along the moor, no hereafter of 
clean breezes sweeping the bounteous heaven. 
Twenty hours later the mild yet poignant 
fragrance of Irish air was in the window of 
my railway carriage, and the smell of turf 
smoke came up out of the west across the 
stone walls of Roscommon. 

Turf smoke lurked in concentrated stale- 
ness about the garb of the two priests in the 
opposite corner, yet it was preferable to 
yesterday s raw whiff of the Channel ; the 
galloping whisper of the Daily Office in the 
two Breviaries revealed the accents of 



12 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

Connaught, and were comfortable to an ear 
already soothed by drowsiness. Let others 
roll and stagger to foreign lands in front of 
the lashing fins of a screw, I was advancing 
on an even axle into springtime in the County 
of Galway ; in my mind's eye I beheld the 
Aran steamer leisurely paddling upon a sea 
of satin smoothness to the unknown islands, 
and in my ear sang the phrase "a way of 
their own, and a sense of their own ; like 
the Indians." 

Two mornings later the door of my bed- 
room in a hotel in Eyre Square, Galway, 
was dealt a fateful blow by the hand of the 
hotel cook, at 3.30 a.m., a blow weighted by 
lifelong combat with loins of mutton. It was 
no less a person than she who placed the 
teapot on the breakfast table, murmuring 
apologetically that "Gerrls was no good to 
rise early, but owld ones like herself wouldn't 
ax to stay in bed." The sunshine of May 
fell upon her grey locks as she stood at the 
portal to watch her guest's departure, and 
her " God speed ye ! " mingled with the bang 
of the swing-door as it slammed upon the 
dark and sleeping house. 

The laburnums of Eyre Square were 



AN OUTPOST OF IRELAND 13 

fountains of gold, and the lilac was delicate 
and cool ; a perfect stillness lay upon Galway. 
Passing on through the streets there was no 
sign of life, and the morning sunshine smote 
on ranks of muffled windows : here and there 
on the old houses the coats-of-arms of the 
Galway Tribes uplifted their melancholy 
witness to bygone greatness, but the town 
spoke with no living voice. Emerging at 
length from between blind-eyed house fronts, 
the docks were reached, and in the large 
vacant spaces of water now to be found 
where was once the second port of the 
United Kingdom, the smoke of a little 
steamer rose in lonely activity, with the 
mountains of Clare and the glitter of Galway 
Bay for a background. 

There was some delay in departure, owing 
partly to a genial sympathy with the un- 
punctual, partly to a question of precedence 
among a pig family in the process of embark- 
ation. The captain, a large clerical man in a 
soft felt hat, bore it with the equanimity of 
one who has learned in many journeys 
between Galway and Aran what is the full 
significance of the devils having entered into 
the swine. The boat moved out at length 



i 4 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

into the gleaming breadth of the bay ; slowly 
the gray town grouped itself in its low-lying 
corner, the spires rose, waist-deep in roofs, 
and the heavy tower of St. Nicholas bore its 
associations of seven hundred years in the 
brilliant youth of the spring sunlight. The 
western suburbs stretched far along the bay, 
with slopes smoothly wooded ; white houses 
looked blankly out from their trim demesnes, 
like alienated friends gazing an unmoved 
farewell. Even Marino Cottage, attired in a 
summer wash of pink, seemed to regard us 
with a new and strange exclusiveness. In- 
expressibly pure of plumage, the gulls rode 
the clear wavelets, and swooped from poise 
to poise with striding wing, masters of art in 
two elements, with cold eyes observant of 
the cumbrous creature that crawled on the 
face of the waters with smoke and foam and 
splashing. Thirty miles away a low, blue 
mound on the horizon represented those 
Islands of Aran described in the ancient 
"Book of Rights" as "The Aras of the 
Sea ; " the bows of the steamer swung to 
them, gradually the brown and ragged coasts 
of Connemara opened away to the north, and 
to the south the barren verge of the County 



AN OUTPOST OF IRELAND 15 

of Clare was shorn perpendicular to the sea 
at the thousand-foot drop of the cliffs of 
Moher. 

The steamer plodded on at her ten miles 
an hour, the pig families below uttered no 
more than an occasional yell of fractiousness 
or dolour, and a party of Aran women sat 
and conversed under their red shawls with 
that unflagging zest and seemingly in- 
exhaustible supply of material that may well 
be the envy of the cultured. 

It was eight o'clock when the anchor was 
let go in Kilronan Bay, opposite the principal 
village of the principal island, while the 
changeless sunshine shone on shallow green 
water, on dazzling whitewashed cottages, on 
dark hills and valleys of grey stone. Round 
the steamer flocked battered punts and tarred 
canvas corraghs with their bows high out of 
the water ; tanned faces, puckered by the 
sunlight, stared up from them, and in a storm 
of Irish the process of disembarking began 
— the phrase but feebly expresses the 
spectacle of a kitchen table lowered from 
the deck and laid on its back in a corragh, or 
the feat of placing an old woman sitting in 
the table with a gander in her lap. The 



1 6 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

corragh has no keel, and a sneeze is rightly 
believed to be fatal to its equilibrium, but an 
Aran old woman and an Aran gander can 
rush in where Sir Isaac Nev/ton might fear 
to tread. 

A crowd waited at the piers end, as the 
boats came creaking and gliding in to their 
feet ; a crowd of large and angular people, 
their faces strong and inquisitive, and 
instantly remarkable to any one accustomed 
to the mild and half-bashful expression of 
West Galway eyes. There is about them an 
air of a foreign race and of an earlier century. 
Under circumstances less soul-stirring than 
the arrival of the Galway steamer, their long 
composed faces express their monotony of 
mood ; their eyes are steady and far-looking, 
as those that from day to day measure the 
sweep of great horizons. Men and women 
alike wear " pampooties " — slippers of raw 
cowhide, with the hair outside — and walk 
with the alertness and erectness that are 
learned from rocky ground and the absence 
of stiff and high-heeled boots ; the men affect 
short, full trousers, ending high above the 
ankle, so that the pampootie is freely dis- 
played in its varieties of dun or black or 




AN ARAN FISHERMAN 



AN OUTPOST OF IRELAND 17 

speckled hide. Topping the costume is a 
"Tarn o' Shanter" cap, probably made in 
Birmingham. It is not a graceful dress, but 
the square shoulders and flat backs would 
dignify a worse one, and the mild and 
mottled pampootie loses its effeminacy with 
the peoples singularly emphatic tread. 

A hostelry of two whitewashed stories and 
a thatched roof faced the pier, and we went 
thither in search of a car, ordered some days 
before. The door was open, admitting a 
flood of sunshine to a narrow passage, on 
one side of which was a kitchen, on the other 
a sitting-room, with a wall paper of drab 
trellis-work starred with balls of Reckitt's 
blue — so it seemed, at least, to eyes blinded 
by the outer glare. It contained chiefly the 
smell of apples and sour bread proper to 
rooms of its class, such as in the Isles of 
Aran seemed impossibly conventional. Train- 
oil and sealskins would have shed a fitter 
perfume. Having invoked the household in 
vain, I essayed the kitchen, where an old 
man in shirt-sleeves was in the act of eating 
his breakfast. He regarded me, not without 
aversion, and continued to share an egg with 
a child of three years old who stood intent 



18 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

and dirty-faced at his elbow. I waited till a 
precarious teaspoonful had been lowered into 
the wide open mouth, and made my inquiry 
about the car. 

"They're out since five o'clock looking for 
the horse." Another spoonful of egg trembled 
in the balance, and entered the speakers 
mouth, not without disaster. 

I averted my eyes, and asked where the 
horse was usually kept. 

"He does be out on the rocks. " The 
spoon was pointed out of the window, some- 
what peevishly. 

Looking in the direction indicated, we saw 
the arid shore of the bay, where, instead of 
sands, grey stone in platforms and pavements 
met the blue and glittering tide. From the 
shore the country rose in haggard slopes of 
gray stone with rifts of green ; cresting the 
height, one of Aran's many ruined oratories 
lifted a naked gable in the deep of the sky. 
A narrow road followed the bend of the bay, 
glaring white for two shelterless miles ; no 
living thing was visible ; the pursuit of the 
horse must be raging on the other side of the 
island. It continued for another hour, with 
what episodes of crag and crevasse can 



AN OUTPOST OF IRELAND 19 

scarcely be imagined ; finally a dejected and 
shaggy captive was led in and was thrust into 
the shafts of a car. 

The drive that followed is not easily for- 
gotten. There were moments when the car 
seemed to open at all its joints, as if falling 
asunder from exhaustion ; and the shafts 
swayed and swung like twin bowsprits, the 
wheels creaked ominously, and one tyre left 
an undulating line in the gritty dust of the 
road. On either side spread floors of stone, 
on which sat parliaments of boulders ; we 
passed a stone platform so large and so level 
that the addition of three walls has made a 
creditable ball-alley of it. The walls are said 
to have been built with money given for the 
relief of distress in Aran ; if so, relief money 
has often been worse spent in the West of 
Ireland. The road kept in touch with the 
coast, the car mounted to higher ground, 
with the shafts pointing heavenward on either 
side of the horses touzled mane. Pale green 
fields and pale tracts of sand mitigated the 
tyranny of rock, as the island sloped south- 
eastward into the rich and wide azure of the 
sea. A village straggled along the shore, 
the chief mass of the low. white houses 



20 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

clustered round a fragment of bastion and 
buttress that tells of the days when 
Cromwell's arm was long enough to grasp 
even Aran and build a stronghold there, 
what time the iron entered into the soul of 
Galway. 

The builders of the castle had not far to 
seek for their cut stone. Four churches and 
a lofty and slender Round Tower were close 
at hand, a constellation in the devotional 
system of "Ara the Holy," the mother of 
many saints and many churches, and there- 
fore peculiarly suited to the purpose of the 
Cromwellians. The churches were demolished, 
the topmost stones of the Tower were utilised, 
and its " Sweet bell " lost in the sand. To- 
day but twelve feet of the beautiful masonry 
remain to testify to the fervid skill of its 
builders. 

Red-shawled women sat by the white- 
washed doorways of the village, red petti- 
coated children pattered barefoot on the hot 
rocks by the roadside, and behind them 
burned the sea's leagues of lapis lazuli ; the 
green of the grass lands intervened suavely 
in the delicious jangle of colour. We were 
at our journey's end so far as the car was 



AN OUTPOST OF IRELAND 21 

concerned ; the artless islander, having 
extorted a payment of four shillings for a 
drive of two miles, retired, and we pursued our 
way on foot to the Lodge above the village, 
which was our destination. 

Life at the Lodge on the hill during the 
ten days that followed had aspects that were 
wholly ideal, and aspects that were unre- 
servedly scullion. The chief windows faced 
north-east, framing a splendid outlook across 
a plain of sea to where the Connemara moun- 
tains have pitched their tents in a jagged line, 
pale in the torpid heat of morning, dark at 
evening against some lengthening creek of 
sunset. When, at some ten of the clock the 
rooms in the lonely house had passed from 
gloaming to darkness, and the paraffin lamp 
glared smokily at the semi-grand piano and 
the horsehair sofa, the wild and noble outline 
of Connemara was still sharp, the gleam 
behind it still a harbourage for the daylight. 
! The more elementary needs of the estab- 
lishment were coped with by a henchwoman 
from the village below, a middle-aged and 
taciturn widow, wearing a red-checked shawl 
over her broad chest, a smaller red shawl 
over her head, an excessively short red 



22 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

homespun skirt, and pampooties. In the 
early hours of the summer morning her step, 
muffled in cowhide, traversed the house 
weightily ; in due time followed the entrance 
of the stable bucket, borne with a slow stride 
that showed to admiration the grey woollen 
ankles under the short skirt : her eye rested 
askance, and not without saturnine humour, 
upon the weakling of a later civilisation who 
still lay in bed. As the bucket was set down 
a deep and serious voice uttered the mono- 
syllable " bath," as colourlessly as the bleat 
of a sheep, and, with the exit of her sallow 
face and dreamy blue eyes, the strange, 
arduous, trifling day began. 

Breakfast was not its least achievement, 
prepared by our own hands at a turf fire that 
added an aroma of its own to the coffee, and 
delicately flavoured the hot milk. Owing to a 
scarcity of saucepans the eggs must be boiled 
in a portly iron pot and fished from its depths 
with the tongs, and through all, and impeding 
all, went the flushed pertinacity of the 
amateur toast-maker. Dinner was a more 
serious affair, a strenuous triumph of mind 
over matter and over the Widow Holloran, 
a daily despair, by reason of potatoes whose 



AN OUTPOST OF IRELAND 23 

hearts remained harder than Pharaoh's, and 
chiefly by reason of the dearth of pie-dishes. 
1 " Why wouldn't ye ax Miss O'Regan down 
in the town for the loan of a pie-dish ? Sure 
she's full up of pie-dishes." This remarkable 
information came from Mrs. Holloran, but 
was not acted upon. 

After twenty four hours of the ministry of 
the Widow Holloran, we found the conclusion 
forced upon us that the Simple Life was far 
more complicated, and infinitely more exact- 
ing than the normal existence of the worldling. 
To us, nurturing a sulky flame in a gloomy 
pile of turf, the truly Simple Life resolved 
itself into two words : good servants. Even 
the least of Miss Gerraghty's nieces would 
have been a Godsend ; the thought of mutton 
chops, procurable at any instant, all but 
brought a dimness to the eye that foresaw a 
dinner — the third in succession — of American 
bacon and eggs that tasted of fish. It was 
in one of the long May twilights that we 
were waited upon by the man who had, on 
the hearthrug of Marino Cottages Front 
Sitting-room, offered us mutton, sweet as 
sugar. This time he offered not mutton, 
but sheep; he produced a sort of subscription 



s 4 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

list, and invited us to put down our names for 
any piece we might prefer of an animal which 
was at the moment nibbling the dainty grass 
among the boulders. We subscribed, with a 
shudder which was, as it proved, superfluous. 
The subscription list did not fill, and two 
days afterwards we were told that the matter 
had fallen through, and if we wanted 
"buttcher's mate" we must telegraph to 
Gal way. 

I have heard, in another part of Ireland, 
described slightingly as " a wild westhern 
place in Cork," of a somewhat similar, but 
more elaborate process. " When they goes 
to kill a cow there, they dhrive her out 
through the sthreet, and a man in front of 
her ringing a bell, and another man with her, 
and he having a bit o' chalk (and it should be 
a black cow). Every one then can tell what 
bit of her they want, and the man dhraws 
it out on her with the chalk. But it should 
be a black cow." I think it was a relative of 
this butcher who, when remonstrated with 
about his meat, on the ground that it had 
not been properly killed, replied unanswer- 
ably, " I declare to ye, the one that had the 
killing of that cow was the Lord Almighty." 



AN OUTPOST OF IRELAND 25 

Meals at the Lodge were not things done 
in a corner. Sheep cropped the grass to 
the edge of the window sill, village children 
loitered observantly on their way to the well, 
tall brindled dogs, in whom must lurk some 
strain of the old Irish wolfhound, gnawed 
sapless bones in the porch, as in an accus- 
tomed sanctuary. The cuckoo, that pre- 
tended recluse, passed and repassed in 
clumsy flight, even perching on the roof of 
the house, and sending a hoarse and hollow 
cry down the chimney. Sitting on the 
rock ledges in the long morning, the 
chiefest concern of idleness was to note his 
short and graceless flittings from boulder to 
wall, his tactless call, coarsened by nearness 
and the lack of illusion. Not thus does the 
spirit voice poise the twin notes in tireless 
mystery, among the wooded shores of 
Connemara lakes. 

! Below the Lodge, to the south-east, the 
restless sand has smothered many a land- 
mark, obliterated many a grave. Lie down 
in it, it is a soft bed ; let it slip through your 
fingers, dry and fine and delicate, while the 
sea line is high and blue above you, and the 
light breaker strikes the slow moments in 



26 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

rhythm. Saint and oratory, cloghaun and 
cromlech, lie deep in its oblivion, their 
memory living faintly and more faintly from 
lip to lip through the years ; around the 
saints their halos still linger, pale in this 
ages noonday, and the fishermen still strike 
sail at the corner of the island to the little 
crumbling tower that is supposed to mark the 
grave of Saint Gregory. » 

The ridge of the island runs in table 
lands of rock, dropping in cliffs to the sea 
along its south-western face. These heights 
are level deserts of stone, streaked with soft 
grass where the yellow vetch blazes and a 
myriad wild roses lay their petals against the 
boulders: Yet even these handmaids of the 
rock are not the tenderest of its surprises. 
Look down the slits and fissures as you step 
across them on a May day, and you will see 
fronds of maiden hair climbing out of the 
darkness and warm mud below. A month 
later they will be strong and tall above the 
surface ; the clots of foam may often strike 
them when, below their platform, the piled- 
up Atlantic rolls its vastness to the attack, 
with the cruel green of the up-drawn wave, 
with the hurl of the pent tons against crag 



AN OUTPOST OF IRELAND 27 

and cliff. But for us, on that May morning, 
land and sea lay in rapt accord, and the 
breast of the brimming tide was laid to the 
breast of the cliff, with a low and broken 
voice of joy. 

The walk here became finally and de- 
finitely a steeplechase, and those not bred 
in Galway had better think twice before 
attempting an Aran stone wall ; indeed, when 
five feet of ponderous and trembling stone 
lattice work has to be dealt with, the native 
himself will probably adopt the simple course 
of throwing it down, building it up again or 
not, according to the dictates of conscience. 
If the explorer survives two hours of this 
exercise, he will have reached the fort of 
Dun ^Engus, built in days when Christianity, 
a climbing sunrise, was as yet far below the 
Irish horizon. Of its kind, it is reputed to 
be as perfect as anything in Europe, but it is 
an unlovely kind. Three invertebrate walls 
of loose stones, eighteen feet high and fifteen 
feet thick, sprawl in a triple horseshoe to 
the edge of a cliff, which, with its sheer drop 
of three hundred feet to the sea, completes 
the line of defence. The innermost of the 
three ramparts encloses a windy plateau 



28 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 



where, in times of siege, the Firbolg Prince 
^ngus, son of Huamor, probably enjoyed 
the society of all the cattle in the island, and 
of an indefinite number of wives. The 
outermost rampart girdles eleven acres of 
rocky hillside, and here the unwearied savage 
labour constructed a chevaux-de-frise by 
wedging slabs and splinters of stone into 
every crevice. Hardly now, in the intelligent 
calm of sight-seeing, can the invader make 
a way through the ankle-breaking confusion, 
where, in the gloaming centuries before St. 
Patrick, bloody hands clutched the limestone 
edges in the death stagger, and matted heads 
crashed dizzily down, in unrecorded death 
and courage and despair. 

After those days Danes and Irish and 
English plundered in their turn, but the 
stillness of the rock and the loneliness of the 
sea closed in again on the islands, while on 
the mainland rebellion and conquest alter- 
nated in a various agony, and the civilisation 
thrust on Ireland was a coat of many colours, 
dipped in blood. These Aras of the Sea rest 
in their primitive calm, nurturing a strong, 
leisurely people, with the patience and hardi- 
ness of the rock in their blood ; equipped 



AN OUTPOST OF IRELAND 29 

physically for any destiny, equipped mentally 
with the quick financial ability and shrewd- 
ness of the Irish, yet slow to imitate, slow in 
the adoption of what others initiate, regard- 
ing, I fear, their country as the invalid and 
ill-used wife of the British ogre, a wife of the 
admired Early Victorian type, unoriginative, 
prolific, and unable to support herself. 

Looking down from Dun ^Engus there is 
little expression of the three thousand lives 
that are hemmed in this floating parish. No 
wheel is audible along the nine miles of 
Irish moor; the other two islands lie gray 
and still, rimmed by fawning and flashing 
tides, lifeless save where the smoke of 
burning kelp creeps blue by the waters 
edge. 

It is a pleasant descent to the village of 
Kilmurvey, down through the buoyant air of 
the hill side ; the grass steals its way among 
the outposts of rock, till the foot travels with 
unfamiliar ease in level fields. Near 
Kilmurvey the Resident Magistrate's house 
shows a trim roof among young larch and 
spruce, a miracle of modernity and right 
angles after the strewn monstrosities of the 
ridge above ; passing near it, a piano gave 



3 o SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

forth a Nocturne of Chopin's to the solitude, 
.a patrician lament, a skilled passion, in a 
land where ear and voice have preserved the 
single threads of melody, and harmony is as 
yet unwoven. 

With its barbaric novelties of colour, its 
wild, red-clad women, its background of grey 
rock, its glare of sunshine, Aran should be 
a place known to painters, but at the first 
sight of of even the sketch book the village 
street becomes a desert ; the mothers, spitting 
to avert the "bad eye," snatch their children 
into their houses, and bang their doors. 
The old women vanish from the door steps, 
the boys take to the rocks. As it is the 
creed of Aran that any one that has his 
"likeness dhrew out" will die within the 
year, it seems unfeeling to urge the matter 
upon them. Here and there the mission 
shilling makes its convert ; an old woman 
braced herself to the risk on the excellent 
ground that she would probably die before 
the year was out, and might as well make 
the most of her chances. She found the 
idea highly humorous, and so did several of 
the neighbours. 

Our departure from Aran was not out of 



AN OUTPOST OF IRELAND 31 

keeping with the general run of events there. 
Struggling with painting materials, plants of 
maidenhair fern, and the usual oversights 
and overflows of packing, scantily enveloped 
in newspaper, we made our way on foot from 
the Lodge to the bay below it, a distance of 
some two or three hundred yards, and there 
embarked, attended to the boat by Mrs. 
Holloran and her next of kin — in other words, 
a crowd of some twenty deeply interested 
persons. We had shoved off and were 
moving out towards the steamer over the 
transparent green deeps of the bay, when I 
remembered the little boy who had driven 
our portmanteaux down to the beach in a 
donkey cart, and I flung a shilling to one of 
the next-of-kin in settlement of the obliga- 
tion. We saw the emissary present the 
tribute. 

" He'll not take it ! " was shouted from the 
shore. 

I protested at the full pitch of my voice to 
the effect that he must not allow his mag- 
nanimity to interfere with his just dues, that 
I was very glad to give it to him. 

II He'll take three ! " travelled to us like a 
cannon ball across the translucent water. 



32 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

Nothing travelled back. Nothing, that is, 
except the Galway steamer, which presently 
flapped its paddles into the falling tide, and 
took us away to regions where we ourselves 
were natives, and viewed the tourist with a 
proper hauteur. 

Meditating on those May days, winnowed 
now of their husk of culinary difficulties, they 
seem the most purely lonely, the most 
crowded with impressions, that could befall. 
Habituated to the stillness of West Galway 
life, these stillnesses were vast and expressive 
beyond any previous experience of mine ; in 
the shadeless brilliance, the bare grayness, I 
breathed a foreign and tingling air. The 
people's profoundly self-centred existence 
has " no thoroughfare " written across it ; 
lying on the warm rocks, they see Ireland 
stretched silent, enigmatic, apart from them, 
and are content that it is so. Their poverty 
is known to many, their way of thought to a 
few ; they remain motionless on the edge of 
Europe, with the dust of the saints beneath 
their feet, 



PICNICS 



c 



PICNICS 

A kettle seated decorously on a kitchen 
range is far less likely to be smoked than one 
propped precariously on a heap of smoulder- 
ing sticks. It is also ordained by the forces 
of civilisation that it shall eventually boil ; a 
point by no means to be taken for granted in 
the matter of the sticks. A sparcity of 
saucers, an apostolic community of teaspoons; 
no one would suspect the hidden humour in 
such disabilities if confronted with them at 
an ordinary " At Home," and however 
excellent the appetite brought to bear upon a 
chicken pie at a luncheon party, in the lack 
of knives and forks it would scarce nerve its 
possessor to eat with his fingers. And yet, 
so skin deep a fraud is civilisation, the 
chicken bone to which, through the years, I 
look back most fondly, was gnawed, warm 



36 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

from the pocket, on the top of one of the 
Bantry mountains. 

The first picnic in which I clearly recall 
taking part was, like many that succeeded it, 
illicit. It unconsciously adhered to the great 
and golden precept that picnics should be 
limited in number and select in company. It 
consisted, in fact, of no more than four, which, 
with a leggy deerhound, a turf fire, and the 
smoke from the turf fire, were as much as 
could be fitted in. Why a ruinous lime-kiln 
should have been chosen is not worth inquir- 
ing into. It probably conformed best with 
those ideals of cave-dwelling, secrecy, and 
rigorous discomfort that are treasured by the 
young. We were, indeed, excessively young, 
and should have been walking in all godliness 
with the governess ; two of us at least should. 
The other two were turf-boys, who should 
have been carrying baskets of turf on their 
backs into the kitchen, and submitting them- 
selves reverently to the innumerable oppres- 
sions of the cook, who, they assured us, had 
already pitched them to the Seventeen Divils 
three times that same day. The lime-kiln 
was sketchily roofed with branches, thatched 
with sedge and was entered by the hole at 



PICNICS 37 

which the smoke came out. It was a feat of 
some skill to lower oneself through this hole, 
avoid the fire, grope for the table — a packing- 
case — with one toe, and thence fall on top of 
the rest of the party. Except in the item of 
sociability I do not think that the deerhound 
can have enjoyed himself much ; he spent 
most of the time in dodging the transits of 
the kettle, and it was our malign custom to 
wipe the knives on his back, in places just 
beyond the flaps of a tongue as long and red 
as a slice of ham. What we ate is best 
forgotten. Something disgusting with carra- 
way seeds in it, kneaded by our own filthy 
hands, lubricated with lard, and baked in a 
frying pan in the inmost heart of the turf 
smoke. The drink was claret, stolen from 
the dining-room, and boiled with a few hand- 
fuls of the snow that lay sparsely under the 
fir trees round the lime-kiln. Why the claret 
should have been boiled with snow is hard to 
explain. I think it must have been due to 
its suggestion of Polar expeditions and Roman 
Feasts ; subjects both of them, that lent them- 
selves to learned and condescending explana- 
tion to the turf-boys. Afterwards, when the 
elder turf-boy, Sonny Walsh, produced a 



38 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

pack of cards from a cavity in his coat that 
had begun life as a pocket, and dealt them 
out for " Spoilt Five" it was the turf-boys 
turn to condescend. " Spoilt Five M is not in 
any sense child's play ; its rules are compli- 
cated, and its play overlaid with weird usages 
and expressions. For the uninitiated it was 
out of the question to distinguish kings from 
queens, or the all-important 11 Five-Fingers " 
from any other five, through the haze of dirt 
with which all were befogged. The turf-boys 
knew them as the shepherd knows his flock, 
and at the end of the game had become 
possessors of our stock-in-trade, consisting of 
a Manx halfpenny, a slate pencil with plaid 
paper gummed round its shank, two lemon 
drops, and a livery button. 

This was a good and thoroughly enjoyable 
picnic, containing within itself all the ele- 
ments of success, difficult as these may be to 
define, and still more difficult as they are to 
secure. 

I remember an August afternoon, and a 
long island that lay sweltering in a sea of flat 
and streaky blue. Two heated boatloads 
approached it at full speed, each determined 
to get there first, and equally determined not 



PICNICS 39 

to seem aware of any emulation. Simul- 
taneously the keels drove like ploughs into 
the hot shingle, the inevitable troop of dogs 
flung themselves ashore — it is noteworthy 
that all dogs dash into a boat as if they were 
leading a forlorn hope, and leave it as if 
they were escaping from a fire — the party 
spread itself over the beach in cheerful ar- 
gument as to the most suitable place for the 
repast, and while the contention was still hot 
as to the relative merits of a long disused 
churchyard, with an ancient stone coffin lid 
for a table, or a baking corner of the strand, 
where a thin stream trickled over the cliffs to 
the sea, one came from the boats with a 
stricken face, and said that all the food had 
been left behind. There was silence for a 
space. Then, while the accusers answered 
one another, the remembrance of Mrs. 
Driscoll's cottage shone like a star on a 
stormy night into the minds of the castaways. 
Under happier circumstances the metaphor 
might have seemed inappropriate, but there 
is a time for everything, and the time for 
Mrs. Driscoirs cottage to pose as a star of 
hope and deliverance had arrived. Mrs. 
Driscoll herself, emerging from her cowhouse, 



4° SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

sympathetic, hospitable, and very dirty, was 
equal to the occasion. Would she lend us a 
skillet? Sure, why not ! An* eggs is it? an* 
praties ? an' a sup o' milk, and the sign o* 
butther ? Well, well ! the cratures ! An' 
they come to this lonesome place to ate their 
dinner, an' to lave it afther them afther ! 
Glory be to mercy ! Well, the genthry is 
quare, but for all they're very good! She 
led the foraging party in to her cottage. It 
was the only house on the island, and, in 
rough weather, as solitary and cut off from 
humanity as was Noahs Ark. Indeed, 
solitariness was not the only point wherein a 
resemblance to the Ark was suggested. A 
cloud of hens screeched forth over the half 
door in our faces ; two cats and a pig sped 
out as we opened it ; a small but determined 
mother goat dared us to force the fortalice of 
the inner chamber in which her offspring 
were, no doubt, in laager ; a gander lifted his 
clattering bill from a skillet — the skillet, I 
may say, in which our subsequent meal was 
to be prepared — to hiss alarmingly at us ; 
two children and, I think, a calf, shuddered 
noiselessly out of sight into the brown vault 
of the fireplace, and through it all, as Mrs. 



PICNICS 41 

Browning sings, 11 The nightingales 99 (or, 
strictly speaking, the ducks) " drove straight 
and full their long clear call." 

Mrs. Driscoll drove, headlong as an ocean 
steamer, through her manage. The skillet 
was snatched from the gander ; with one 
sweeping cuff a low-growling, elderly dog 
was dashed from its seat on the potato sack 
under the table. The dresser yielded a bowl 
full of eggs ; from the bedroom came milk 
and butter (happily, none of us, save the 
goat, was made free of the mysteries of their 
place of keeping), and a little girl was 
plucked from the depths of the chimney and 
commanded to M run away to the well for a 
pitcher of water." 

<{ Not from the well in the bohireen," we 
said quickly, 11 it doesn't look very — 99 

" Sure that's grand wather, asthore," 
replied Mrs. Driscoll, "if ye'll take the green 
top off it there's no better wather in the globe 
of Ireland, nor in Carbery nayther !" 

We accepted the reassurance. When one is 
less than twenty and more than half-starved, 
one accepts a good deal, and I cannot 
remember that any of us were any the worse 
for the water. At all events the potatoes 



42 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

were boiled in it, the eggs nestling amicably 
among them (this to save time and fuel). 
Ultimately there was made a comprehensive 
blend of everything — eggs, potatoes, milk and 
butter, the whole served hot, on flat stones, 
and eaten with pocket knives and cockle- 
shells. 

Over our heads the unsophisticated sea- 
gulls swooped and screamed — I remember 
that one of them nearly knocked my hat off 
on that island one day — the air quivered like 
hot oil between us and the purple distance 
of the mainland, and yet there was the island 
freshness in it ; we lay on our backs on the 
heathery verge of the cliffs and drowsed off 
the potatoes. There were no plates to wash, 
no forks to clean. It was an admirable 
picnic. So every one thought, save the dogs, 
who found egg-shells and potato-skins a poor 
substitute for chicken bones. 

There is, I think, in the matter of picnics 
no middle course endurable. If they cannot 
attain to the untrammelled simplicity of the 
savage, they require all the resources of 
civilisation to justify them. Let there be 
men-servants, and maid-servants, and cattle 
— for carting purposes — and, in fact, all the 



PICNICS 43 

things enumerated in the Tenth Command- 
ment, including your neighbours wife. 
Let there also be champagne — and yet, not 
even champagne will alleviate much if your 
neighbour's wife be dull and greedy, and 
how often, how almost invariably is she, at a 
picnic, both these things ! There certainly 
is something in the conditions of set feasts 
out of doors that induces an unusual measure 
of gluttony. Primarily, of course, there is 
the lack of other occupation, but chiefly, I 
think, there is the instinctive wish to lessen 
the labours of packing up. Packing up is 
the dark feature of the best picnic. I have 
often pitied the Apostles for the seven 
basketfuls that they found left on their 
hands. 

If an instance of all that is worst in a 
picnic be required I may lightly record some 
of the features of an entertainment which, 
one summer, I was by Heavens help and a 
little lower diplomacy, enabled to evade. 
The drag-net of the African war had gone 
heavily over the neighbourhood, and to the 
forty women who had unflinchingly accepted, 
but two men were found to preserve the just 
balance of the sexes. These numbers are 



44 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

not fictitious. They may be found seared 
upon the heart of the hostess. 

The forty, with a singular fatuity, seem to 
have been as tenacious of their dignity as 
jurymen at a Coroners inquest. It was 
theirs, as females, to sit still and be fed, and 
this they did, even though the feeding 
process was conducted solely by the two 
heroes of the afternoon, and was necessarily 
of the most gradual character. The kettle, 
or rather kettles, were — it is the only bright 
spot in the affair — ably manipulated by serfs 
in the background, and in their hands was 
also the grosser conduct of the feast, the 
unpacking, the setting forth on the grass of a 
table cloth of about half an acre in area, and 
the placing on its unattainable central pla- 
teaux those matters — such as cream-jugs and 
fruit salads — in greatest request and most 
prone to disaster. They, also, had been the 
selectors of a ruined cottage as the site of 
the camp fires, and it was only when these 
were being prepared that a swarm of bees 
discovered itself in the chimney. Fortu- 
nately, however, before it went on to discover 
the picnic, some one, with the Irish gift of 
using the wrong thing in the right place, 



PICNICS 45 

stopped the flue with a hamper and a car- 
riage rug, thus heading off the worst of the 
bees, while the fires were relit in the corners 
of the cottage. The two men faced the 
position. Through smoke and bees they did 
their duty, carting back and forth the eighty 
cups of tea which the occasion demanded ; 
but they said afterwards that more than 
patriotism barbed the regret that their 
country had deemed them too old for active 
service. As for the forty ladies, they sat and 
fulfilled what was for them the primary, if 
not the only object of the picnic, by eating 
and drinking, without haste, without rest, 
till the kettles gave out. Then, like a flock 
of gorged birds, they rose heavily, and 
unaffectedly begged to be allowed to order 
their carriages, and so went home. The 
hostess had held a walk and a view in 
reserve, in case of emergencies, but it was 
not for her to complain. The two men then 
had their tea. 

It has been my fate to take part in several 
yachting picnics. They have all had one 
common and hideous feature — even as a 
cocked-nose or a squint will run in families — 
the yachts have invariably been becalmed. 



46 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

Their other conditions have been various. 
Sometimes the food was sent by land to meet 
the yachters at the chosen rendezvous ; 
sometimes the picnicking contingent rode 
bicycles and sent the food by sea, and some- 
times the yacht alone took the whole outfit, 
food and feeders, and putting forth to sea, 
incontinently fell upon flat calms, and the 
slow pulsing swell of the Atlantic, and thus, 
though the direct cause varied, the net result 
was ever the same — starvation. There is 
hidden away in West Cork a most lovely 
and lonely lake. It is joined with the sea by 
a narrow neck, up which at high water boats 
can come. To landward is a great hill, 
thickly grown with firs, and aboriginal oaks, 
and hollies, wherein on a still night you may 
hear the wild screech of the martin-cats, 
ripping the darkness blood-curdlingly, like a 
woman's scream. From its summit is a 
view of wondrous beauty and expanse (not 
necessarily synonymous terms, though often 
reckoned so), and it was there that we 
were to picnic, bicycling as near the top 
as might be, while hirelings from the yacht 
were to carry provisions up the hill for 
us. It was a luncheon picnic, the blackest 



PICNICS 47 

kfnd of all. The yacht started at day- 
break ; all was to be ready on the hill top by 
our arrival. 

I should think the least intelligent would 
have already gathered the denouement of 
this %i Cautionary Tale," as Mrs. Sherwood 
would call it, and I need do no more than 
indicate the closing scene of the day's 
tragedy. On a sea of turquoise, far-away 
sails, saffron-coloured, and motionless in the 
afternoon sunlight. On the mud floor of a 
roadside public house, a small company of 
bicyclists, drearily preserving life by means 
of sour porter, flat, sweet lemonade, and 
probably the stalest biscuits in the wide 
province of Munster. 

Many high authorities, including, I am 
told, Mr. Herbert Spencer, assure us that it 
is the inherited influences of prehistoric 
ancestors that breed in otherwise decent and 
home-keeping souls the love of the lawless 
freedom of a picnic, and, to be sure, the 
pleasure that we had in our island orgy, with 
its plateless, spoonless indecorums, can best 
be explained on some such theory. None 
the less, I maintain that the ideal picnic is 
only achieved by the most super-civilised 



) 

48 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

elimination and selection. Two, or afc most 
four, congenial souls, and a tea basket of 
latest device and most expert equipment — 
these things, and thoroughly dry grass, and 
I ask no more of heaven. 



BOON COMPANIONS 



D 



BOON COMPANIONS 



11 D'ye remember of Gill and Poor Fellow, 
greyhounds that was in it long ago ?" 

I did not. In the long and tear-stained 
annals of the family dogs but one greyhound 
was in my memory, the saintly and beautiful 
Gazelle, own niece to " Master McGrath," as 
was recited with bated breath to new 
governesses and other of the unenlightened, 
coupled with large statements as to her 
uncomputable value had not her tail in 
youth been shut into a stable door and given 
a double angle like a bayonet. 

Rickeen was occupied, to some extent, in 
felling a young ash tree. He swung in hah 
a score of blows that made it shiver, and 
presently came to the expected pause. 

" Faith thim was the dogs — ! My 
brother Tom was butler here the same time. 



52 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

B'leeve me 'twas himself was souple ! He'd 
run home any minute in the day, two miles, 
and ye wouldn't hardly feel him gone." 

This remarkable accomplishment on the 
part of the butler was allowed to sink in, as 
it deserved. 

" He had a tarrier, and one day going 
through the Wood of Annagh himself and 
the tarrier wakened a hare, and the two o' 
thim was hunting her through and fro, and 
he cursing the full of a house on the tarrier. 
He shtud then on the big rock that's in it, 
and he let a whistle on his two fingers. 
The two greyhounds was sthretched within 
at the kitchen fire up at the Big House, and 
sorra word of lie I'm tellin', but Poor Fellow 
put an ear on him, and the two of them 
legged it out of the kitchen and away with 
them to the wood, and they never stopped 
nor stayed till they found Tom, and them- 
selves and the tarrier killed the hare." 

The big rock and the Big House were 
severed by an Irish mile of tree trunks and 
briars, but criticism is the last thing required 
from a listener, and I hope I played my 
part. 

Rickeen was again possessed by a spasm 



RICKEEN 



BOON COMPANIONS 53 

of industry : the chips flew out, the tall young 
ash cracked, and sank into the arms of its 
neighbours. There was a singular simplicity 
about the forestry of the establishment. 
When the bitter cry of the cook went forth 
for wood wherewith to cook the impending 
meal, Rickeen prayed that the divil might 
roast and baste all the women in Ireland, 
and cut down a convenient young tree. By 
this means the plantations were lightly thinned 
at the ends nearest the house, and as a 
general thing the cook gave notice every 
three weeks, which prevented any unwhole- 
some stagnation. 

11 But as for dogs/' continued Rickeen, a 
little later, as he snicked off the greeny-grey 
branches, " the grandest dog ever was in 
this counthry was Mullowny's. Ye couldn't 
know what kind of a breed was in him, but 
ye'd have to like him, he was that spotted. " 

Here a long-drawn yell came forth from 
the yard, resolving itself gradually into a 
statement to Rickeen that the Misthress 
wanted her keys, and himself was the last 
one she seen them with. 

Rickeen put down his hatchet in fateful 
silence. His dog, couched in a brake where 



54 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

the young bracken stems curled like bishops* 
croziers round her crafty snout, raised one 
yellow eyebrow out of what was apparently 
deep sleep, arose, and followed him with her 
wonted gravity. Her cold manner was the 
next thing to good breeding ; in spite of a 
family tree exclusively composed of crosses, 
in spite of a coat suggestive of a badger skin 
that has been used as a door mat, there was 
that in her pale eyes and in the set smile at 
the corners of her mouth that discouraged 
familiarity, and induced other dogs to feign 
a sudden interest in their own affairs as she 
approached. To follow Rickeen she gnawed 
ropes, and swam lakes, and ate her way 
through doors, and Rickeen never to my 
knowledge addressed her, except with the 
command to drive in the cows. In her next 
incarnation she will probably be the ideal 
colonists wife. 

I remained sitting on a stump in the 
silence, and thought of my first love, Bran. 
Through the tree stems I could see a grassy 
hill sloping to the lake side, where, at the 
age of nine, I grovelled one morning 
among the cowslips and mopped my soaking 
tears with my holland waggoner, and wished 



BOON COMPANIONS 55 

for death, because Bran had been drowned. 
Bran was a cur, half silky and gracious 
Gordon setter, half woolly vulgarian of the 
Irish cottage breed, and to us, his comrades, 
a hero, an object of passionate faith, and, as 
such, the victim of many well-meant but 
excruciating honours. He wore, with docile 
consciousness of his absurdity, ornamental 
harness of strangling complications, and 
with it drew at a foot pace a grocer's box, 
mounted on wheels, while we walked before 
and after with fixed bayonets and all the 
gravity befitting a guard of honour operating 
in shrubberies teeming with banditti. It 
was not till an attempt was made to put the 
new bull dog into double harness with him 
that Bran showed symptoms of resentment, 
and the battle that then raged in the tangle 
of the shoulder straps and traces placed him, 
if possible, higher in our respect. The 
matter was patched up with the bull dog, 
who, though instant in quarrel, was not 
without good feeling, and next morning, at 
an early hour, I saw his frightful face 
protruding from under the bedclothes of my 
brothers bed, framed in a poke bonnet of 
sheet, while two long tails, languidly waving 



56 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

in welcome, hung down over the valance 
like bell-ropes, and witnessed to the presence 
of Bran and of the young deerhound, Kilfane, 
hidden in the deepest heart of the bed. 

Perhaps Sunday was the day that Bran 
was most satiating to us. To go to church on 
the top of the family omnibus was at any time 
the summit of ambition ; with Bran speeding 
easily in front, or slackening for a hurried 
exchange of ferocities with cabin acquaint- 
ances, the five miles (invariably driven in the 
teeth of a north-westerly wind) were all too 
short. Those inside, whose turn it would be 
to sit on top coming home, yearned with 
crooked necks through the side windows, and 
stimulated by glimpses of the hero, were 
enabled to struggle successfully with the 
hideous tendency of childhood to be sea-sick 
in covered vehicles. During church time 
Bran was immured in the lock-up at the 
police station, and many a wriggling half- 
hour's endurance of the sermon was gilded 
by expectancy of the moment when the 
sorrowful sighing of the prisoner would turn 
to ardent sniffing under the door of the lock- 
up, and the hand of the sergeant would restore 
to us " life's greatest possibility." 



BOON COMPANIONS 57 

One summer night, at about this time, as 
I lay in my bed, the spirits of prophecy and 
of poesy came upon me hand in hand, quite 
inexplicably. Bran was in his usual health, 
and, as I afterwards found, was at that 
very hour engaged in stealing mutton hash 
from the back hall : but it was decreed that I 
should compose an ode fatefully com- 
memorating his violent death. 

" Oh, Bran, thou wert gentle and sweet," 
I began, without an effort, while Mattei's 
Valse swung and crashed its way up through 
two ceilings from the drawing-room, 

But now thou art past and gone, 
Like a wave on the ocean so fleet, 
And the deed of death was done. 

Even here inspiration did not flag. 

'Tis no use to wail or to weep. 
For oh, alas and alack ! 

Thou'st gone to that eternal sleep, 
From which none can bring thee back. 

The magnificence of the close was almost 
stupefying to the author ; even the second 
line of the verse had seemed full of a rending 
passion. I sank to sleep, aware that I had 
taken my place in literature. 

A year afterwards came the miserable 



58 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

tears among the cowslips, the first taste of 

the bitter core of sentiment, and the 

discovery that the prophetic ode did not 

express the position. 

Bran occupies the whole foreground of the 

history of pets, but there were many of a 

lesser sort. There was even another elegy, 

beginning : 

Stranger, with reverence draw near, 
A Linnet lies below. 

But birds were not our foible. 

Rabbits followed each other in bewildering 
succession, and travelled to their doom by 
the same track. We fed them with milk 
and water out of eggspoons, with daisies, and 
with clover, but the morning always came 
when the foundling lay stiff in its hay, its 
black eyes glazed, and the limp daisies 
untouched beside it. One notable exception 
is recorded, a young rabbit brought in with a 
broken leg, who out of pure contrariety and 
improbability lived for a year. It became 
precocious beyond belief, and sat all day 
observing life from the arm of its proprietor. 
At night it slept, or affected to sleep, in a box 
in her room, biding its time till the candle 
was put out. Under cover of darkness it 



BOON COMPANIONS 59 

would then stealthily come forth and would 
buck with precision from the floor on to the 
face of the sleeper, repeating the feat as often 
as repulsed, until a burrow in some corner of 
the bed was granted. (It is not out of place 
here to mention that its nails were cut 
with extreme care and regularity.) Its diet 
presented no difficulty, save in the matter of 
restriction. It partook of the family meals 
as they came : porridge, marmalade, bread 
and butter, meat ; uncooked green vegetables 
were not so much as mentioned in its 
presence. It even, horrible to confess, 
frequently ate rabbit-pie, and cracked and 
crunched the bones of its relatives with 
cannibal glee. On these scandalous foods it 
throve, but remained dwarfish and uncanny. 
It had moods of suspicion and brooding, 
when it sat in the chimney of an empty room. 
Once, under the protection, no doubt, of the 
evil spirits with whom it was in league, it 
leaped from a window sill forty feet above 
the ground, alighted with a flop, and greeted 
those who rushed to pick up the corpse with 
a cold stare of inquiry as to what the 
excitement was about. It met its death 
by presuming in the open field upon the 



60 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

long-suffering of the dogs whom it terrorised 
in the house. 

Outside the inner circle of pets, and within 
the outer circle of the donkeys whom we 
partly loved, partly scorned, and daily 
martyrised, kids held a certain position of 
their own. They are not to be commended, 
being skittish, peevish, tactless and strong, 
but they were not without attraction. One of 
them, black and white, with oblique barley- 
sugar eyes, showed much inclination towards 
the profession of house dog, and learned 
many essentials of that trade ; the doors that 
were worth waiting at, the perils and rich 
prizes of the kitchen passages, the moment 
to intrude, the moment to fly. An incident 
of its career can best be told in the words of 
a certain Bridget, a notable member of the 
long dynasty of Bridgets that passed pro- 
cessionally through the establishments route 
for America. 

" The Misthress was below in the hall and 
she heard one above on the top landin', 
walkin* as sthrong as a man. 1 Bridget ! ' 
says she," (the voice of command was given 
with great elegance and hauteur), " and what 
was in it but the young goat, and it commenced 



BOON COMPANIONS 61 

walkin' down the stairs. 1 Come here, 
Bridget !' says the Misthress, and sure of 
course the goat said nothing, but goin' on 
always from step to step. 1 Arrah musha ! 
The divil go from ye/ says the Misthress, 
4 why don't ye spake ? What sort of hoppin' 
is it ye have up there ?' M (The elegance of 
the imitation here yielded to the narrator's 
sense of what was fitting.) 11 Faith, the 
goat stood then, like it 'd be afraid. 4 The 
Lord save us, it's the fairies ! ' says the Mis- 
thress, an' there wasn't one in the house 
but she called, and what did they get in it 
but the goat, an' it having a stocking half 
ate!" 

Not long afterwards (next day probably) 
the kid was sent back on an outside car to its 
native place, a region of bog and rock and 
scrub, where its lamentations for the school- 
room fire had ample scope. It was escorted 
to its Siberia by a large party from the 
schoolroom, filled with curiosity to see how 
it would be received in its family circle. The 
boy who was left to hold the horse became 
also impelled to see the meeting, with the 
result that the horse and car were found a 
little later on their backs in a bog ditch, 



6a SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 



which conclusion is not to this hour known 
to the authorities. 

It was in the winter that the Reign of 
Terror of the Monkeys began. The first of 
them, large and grey, wearing the name of 
Lizzie, and a red flannel coat, arrived in 
December, and it was humanely arranged 
that she should live close to the kitchen fire 
on the flour bin. It was also enacted that 
she was to be chained to the wall " until she 
got to know people a little." 

There are Northern stories, Eastern ones, 
too, I believe, of houses in which evil spirits 
having once gained entrance, remained in 
immutable possession. Thus it was with us. 
In a short time Lizzie got to know every one 
very thoroughly. She bit each visitor indis- 
criminately, and having analysed the samples, 
she arranged a sliding scale of likes and dis- 
likes, on the negative principle. That is to 
say, she would tolerate A till B arrived 
when she bit A. On C's appearance she bit 
both A and B, and so on up to Z. The 
master of the house was Z. (Herein she 
showed her infernal cunning.) Z was never 
bitten. The kitchenmaid, in whose control 
were the dainties that Lizzies soul loved, was 



BOON COMPANIONS 63 

Y, i.e., she was only bitten on the arrival of 
the master. Lizzie's bad life had the sole 
merit of brevity. One of her customs was to 
strike a match, and having burnt the hair on 
her grimy, nervous little arm, to eat the 
frizzled remains. (Thus invalidating the 
vaunt that man is the only animal that cooks.) 
Having on several occasions nearly set the 
house on fire, matches were forbidden to her, 
but one fortunate day a new boxful somehow 
fell into her possession, and, varying her 
wonted practice, she ate off the heads of most 
of the matches. Therewith her spirit passed ; 
but only temporarily. In less than a year she 
was with us again. This time in the guise of 
a small brown monkey, that went by the name 
of Jack. A clear proof of obsession by the 
spirit of Lizzie was afforded in the fact that 
precisely the same sliding scale of hatred was 
observed, culminating as before in the master 
of the house. Jack was in some particulars 
less repellent than his predecessor. He was 
smaller, and was given to fits, which gave a 
hope that his life might not long be spared. 
By this time the flour-bin from long camping 
would have supplied the germs of enteric to an 
entire army corps. (I hasten to say that, being 



64 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

in Ireland, it was never used as a flour-bin 
having been thus temporarily styled as a con- 
cession to convention during the brief reign 
of an English cook who had long before fled 
to her native land.) Between the flour-bin 
and the w r all Jack's fits usually took place, 
and it was the wont of the tender-hearted 
kitchenmaid (known to this day among her 
fellows as " Mary-the-Monkey." The suffix 
" the Monkey " being a distinguishing mark ; 
as " Philippe-le-Bel," " Robert-the-Lion ") to 
unchain him after one of these seizures and 
to sit before the fire with him on her lap. 
No experience seemed to teach her that his 
first act on recovery was to bite her suddenly 
and then escape. The alarm was spread in 
precisely the same manner on each successive 
occasion. First a shrill and piercing scream 
from " Mary-the-Monkey," usually coupled 
with an appeal to her God. Then an 
answering yell from the next victim in the 
pantry. Then a shouting, and an earthquake 
slamming of doors through the house as its 
occupants one and all sped to safety. Finally 
the voice of the master assuring the invisible 
household that all was well, and that the 
monkey would never bite any one if they 



BOON COMPANIONS 6s 

did not show that they were afraid of 
him. 

Jack died in a fit, and was mourned only 
by the master and the faithful kitchenmaid. 
Yet had he and his fellow had any desire for 
social success it would have been easy for 
them to have achieved it in a family so 
inured to pets as ours. 

But monkeys are worse than tactless. 
They understand their own hideousness and 
unpopularity, yet will not make a step towards 
amiability. A little leaning to the pathetic 
would have made us adore them, but they 
prefer to remain malevolent, remote, uttering 
coarse, mysterious grunts and screeches, out 
of hearts full of cold devilry. It is in keeping 
with their vulgarity that they should thrust 
their way into an assemblage of pets; an 
insult even to the kid and the rabbit, an out- 
rage to the memory of Bran. 



THE BIOGRAPHY OF A PUMP 



THE BIOGRAPHY OF A PUMP 



The date of its birth is uncertain. A torpid 
tradition places it in the Early Victorian Era, 
but the Regency is more probable ; even the 
Rebellion of '96 may not have been beyond 
its ken. Being a native of West Galway, 
neither Regency nor Early Victorian Era 
was likely to be an epoch in its surroundings. 
It belonged to the period when 

" . . . Dick Martin ruled 

The trackless wilds of Connemara ; " 

and the men who put it in its place scarcely 
knew whether king or queen ruled in an 
England that was as remote from them as 
the India of to-day. 

It is probable that in the youth of the 
pump its labours were light. Baths were the 
eccentricity of a few, a revival of the corrupt 



7 o SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

days of the Roman Empire ; and the process 
by which the stalwart fox-hunter of the 
beginning of this century got into his clothes 
was one that it might be well to slur over, 
invaluable as he and his costume have been 
to the Christmas numbers. Vast and simple 
cooking operations, conducted on an open 
grate four feet long ; vats of meat pickle 
lying in cellars where the light came greenly 
through ivied windows ; cauldrons of potatoes, 
and possibly cauldrons of punch ; these formed 
the highest claims on the water-supply before 
the dynasty of the bath was proclaimed in 
the establishment. The deathless discontent 
that followed the innovation has produced 
many stirring household episodes, none of 
them more sudden and complete than that 
which occurred on the day when one of those 
vessels of wrath, the bath, was repainted for 
the first time. The local carpenter had 
arrived for the purpose, with what disdain 
for such trifling can be imagined. Arriving 
early, he discovered the bath as yet un- 
emptied, an added insult to a man whose 
time was much occupied with fishing on the 
lake, and other serious matters. The house- 
maid, with ill-timed coquetry, put out her 



THE BIOGRAPHY OF A PUMP 7 1 

tongue at him when approached on the 
subject. In silence more bodeful than re- 
partee he returned to the bath, carried it to 
the door, and emptied its contents down the 
passage. A stupefied stillness fell upon the 
bystanders, then arose outcry almost choked 
by rage, while behind a locked door the 
carpenter whistled and audibly chuckled over 
his work. 

In those days the turf -boy was an institu- 
tion, oppressive, but necessitated by an estab- 
lishment where coal had never been seen, 
and an armful of turf burned away in an 
hour. All day they plied bare-foot between 
the turf-house and the various fuel depots of 
the house with baskets of the long, hard sods 
on their backs and guile and mutiny in 
their hearts, because that with the office of 
turf-boy was linked the hated one of water- 
carrier. About this latter clustered battles 
of endless variety, involving the sacred person 
of the cook, and frequently topped as with 
a banner by her giving of warning. After 
long warfare it was lightly thought that the 
exodus of cooks might be stayed by the 
introduction of a self-filling boiler supplied 
from a small tank, which must, by Median 



72 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

and Persian law, be replenished every morn- 
ing. It was done, and for an incredible 
fortnight the charm of novelty retained its 
hold on the turf-boys ; the tank was filled, 
the ball-cock did its work like a book, and 
the Dublin cook was fain to seek another 
grievance. The inevitable hour drew on when 
the tank, like any other entertainment, must 
cease to amuse, the hour in which it ebbed 
unreplenlshed to its dregs, while the turf- 
boys, much preoccupied with making a wicker 
snare for blackbirds, known as a cradle-bird, 
sat round the fire, and dismissed the boiler 
from their minds with a calm, native trust in 
Providence. It was in the meridian of this 
peace that the boiler burst, with a single and 
shattering report. What followed on that 
crack of doom it is not necessary to record ; 
the imagination of any householder can 
shadow forth the attitude of the cook, and no 
living pen could reproduce the flight of the 
turf-boys. 

It is more agreeable to turn to another 
scene, in which the pump played its part to a 
limited extent, when, on the last night of the 
old year, the coach-house was garlanded with 
holly and ivy, and " Pete-een bawn," the 



THE BIOGRAPHY OF A PUMP 73 

Albino fiddler, sat on high on a window-sill, 
twitching out jigs and reels from the fiddle 
that he played on his knee, while the thick 
boots of a roomful of dancers kept light and 
unflagging time. As the crowning hour of 
twelve drew on, preparations began for the 
brew of punch that was to usher in the new 
year, and a tasting committee, formed of the 
gamekeeper and the kitchenmaid, was met by 
the supreme question of what to brew it in. 
A bucket was considered too small, the churn 
was rejected because it had " an ugly smell." 
Finally some genius bethought him of a hip- 
bath. The bath was snatched from the 
nearest bedroom by a bevy of turf-boys, the 
stone jar of John Jameson was emptied into 
it, and followed with more reticence by kettles 
of boiling water ; all that remained was to 
provide each guest with a cup to dip into the 
reeking pool. Ten minutes later the bath 
was empty, and a ring of boys radiated from 
it at full length, lapping the last drops, and 
even licking the enamel, while the dancing 
was resumed with startling emphasis. Out- 
side, a light snow was on the ground, the 
north wind blew dark in that bitter midnight, 
and the ice on the lake uttered strange 



74 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

sounds — hollow, musical shocks with the 
voice of the imprisoned water in them. 
Every tree in the woods stood separate in 
white silhouette, the rime sifting through the 
branches in a dry whisper. Upon this subtle 
mood of winter came forth from the open 
doors of the coach-house the light of lamps 
with tin reflectors, the shrewish scream of the 
fiddle as Pete-een bawn jerked his whitehead 
in accord with " The hare was in the corn," 
the aroma of punch and of clothes seasoned 
in turf smoke. It is better to withdraw from 
these early hours of the new year, before the 
uncertain homeward footsteps blotted the 
thin snow, and the exponents of the genial 
first stage of drunkenness assisted the ex- 
ponents of the aggressive second stage to 
pull themselves together for early Mass. 

It has been mentioned that the pump was 
subject to chronic and mysterious ailments, 
on which every skilled opinion in the country 
was brought to bear, while the water famine 
was sore in the land, and the turf-boys plied 
with buckets and bewailings between the 
lake and the cook, aud unearthly pronged 
creatures gyrated in the water-bottles. It 
was during one of these visitations, when the 



THE BIOGRAPHY OF A PUMP 75 

back yard was torn up into entrenchments, 
and the pump lay two miles away at the 
forge, that the Garrygillihy horse races were 
held, and with this event the revolt of the 
turf-boys broke forth. On the previous day 
they concealed themselves in an old limekiln 
and mended their trousers ; on the morning 
itself they made the simple statement that 
" if the servants w r as to die dancing for turf 
and wather they'll not get it to-day," after 
which ultimatum they were seen no more. 
Many things happened in their absence, not 
at first sight connected with it ; the cook 
went to bed in the afternoon, the hens 
walked upstairs to the pantry, and picked 
out the inside of a plum cake, and a cow got 
into the coach-house, and ate the cushion of 
the car. The cook gave warning next day, 
the kitchenmaid, in tears, followed suit, 
because the cook had called her a "jumper" 
(ie. y a pervert to Protestantism) ; the house- 
maid, also in tears, asserted that the kitchen- 
maid "had a spleen agin her," and the 
stableman was heard darkly soliloquising 
over the cleaning of the bits that "a lie 
was something, but there was no dealing 
with a d — d lie." All these things were 



76 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

subsequently traced by tortuous ways to the 
grand central fact that the turf- boys had 
gone to the Garrygillihy races. 

There came at length a notable crisis, 
when the pump showed that it had, like 
most of its countrymen, a power of rising to 
the occasion. It was on a bright morning in 
May that the kitchen chimney caught fire, 
an event of yearly occurrence, and by no 
means displeasing to the authorities. The 
big shaft roared with furnace heat up its 
eighty feet, the ugly blaze wavered from the 
chimney top ; a few buckets of water were 
poured down, and all became quiet. It had 
happened in the immemorial manner, but 
just once too often. Four hours later, in the 
stillness of the hot afternoon, the voice of the 
fire was heard again, a soft, busy crackling in 
the timbers of the roof, a muffled booming 
sound that grew above it ; a tongue of flame 
through the slates, a drip of melted lead from 
the eaves, and the house was full of shouts 
and rushing feet. An hour afterwards the 
battle was over, and the toilers could fling 
themselves down, breathless, to realise an 
incredible escape, and the clang of the pump 
handle ceased. Throughout that hour of 



THE BIOGRAPHY OF A PUMP 77 

stress none of the pump's repertoire of evil 
symptoms was exhibited, nor did it fail to 
respond to the astonishing variety of recep- 
tacles presented to .its grim beak. Next day 
it gasped forth the mud of the bottom of the 
well, and fell into a fractious disorder from 
which it has never rallied ; but none the 
less the old house at its back owes its life to 
the allegiance of its comrade of a hundred 
years. 



HUNTING MAHATMAS 



HUNTING MAHATMAS 



Many people have learnt from "Kim" 
what it is to be a 11 Chela," and there was a 
time, not long ago, when every self-respecting 
evening paper and most of the magazines 
had something sufficiently — or self-sufficiently 
— illuminating to say about Karma or the 
Mahatma. I am not skilled in Buddhism, 
but I have assimilated a fact or two about 
Mahatmas, and in so doing have become 
aware of wider issues. , 
A Mahatma, I believe, implies primarily a 
teacher,an instructor, a sage or hermit with in- 
termittently social tendencies ; it also implies 
the possession of many useful endowments. 
Matter and space appear to be negligible 
accidents to the competent Mahatma. As a 
mere after-dinner triviality he will summon 
you a cigarette from infinity and will 



82 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

materialise it on the table; moving to higher 
things, he can produce a copy of the Times 
in the remoter parts of Tibet on the day on 
which it appears in London, advertisements 
and all, but exclusive, I fancy, of library 
privileges. Transcending these lighter ac- 
complishments, however, is his power of 
transporting himself to a chosen place at a 
chosen time without visible means of pro- 
gression. He, we are assured, can fade from 
the landscape with the beautiful elusiveness 
of a rainbow, and can develop himself else- 
where, in or out of the landscape, with a 
precision with which the rainbow cannot 
hope to compete. 

There is a matter that seems to me to 
have escaped observation — it certainly is not 
generally admitted — that in society not 
notably occult, in what, in fact, are often 
spoken of as Hunting Circles (though why 
circles, save with a very bad fox, it is hard 
to say), these privileged beings are found. 
Unsuspected, unappreciated, his high gifts 
often despised, even disliked, the Mahatma 
blooms in what might seem the uncongenial 
soil of many a hunting country. 

There is a difference, distinct and, in my 



HUNTING MAHATMAS 83 

mind, well defined, between the people who 
hunt and the people who go hunting. The 
people who hunt are the professionals ; 
serious, impassioned even, but with subdued 
emotion ; fanatics who live only to conjugate 
the verb To Hunt in all its moods and 
tenses ; recognising implicitly the force of 
its imperative, accepting its future with joy, 
its past with loquacity. For them hunt 
numbers are compiled, and runs recorded 
with geographical accuracy and microscopic 
detail ; they cut out the work, they give the 
time. Yet it is not among their thrusting 
ranks that the Mahatma is found. He is 
evolved, in perfect response to the need for 
him, among the wider brotherhood of those 
who go hunting. These are the true free 
lances of the chase. Having cast off the fear 
of public opinion, and purged themselves of 
the love of display, they have no conventions 
to respect and no position to lose. Hand in 
hand with their devotion to sport goes the 
most saving good sense. How despicable to 
these enfranchised minds must be the 
meaningless twists, the desperate endeavours 
of the zealots who, infatuated as a string of 
ants, surmount unwaveringly every obstacle 



84 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

that lies in their path ! As, from a pleasant 
hill side, the Mahatma views these struggles, 
he must surely feel how well it is with him, 
and how useful a thing it is to combine moral 
courage with intelligence. 




"THE HOVERING HORDE VACILLATES NO LONGER " 

But in a hilly and gateless country, such as 
Ireland excels in, moral courage and intelli- 
gence will not suffice ; inspiration is needed, 
and straightway, out of a hovering and un- 
certain horde of riders, the Mahatma material- 
ises. The hour has come, and the man. 
(These things, it may be noted, often 
synchronise with the interposition of the class 



HUNTING MAHATMAS 85 

of fence that is like an east wind, in being 
neither good for man nor beast.) Without a 
shadow of hesitation the Mahatma turns his 
horse at a right angle from the line the 
hounds are running, possibly even in a 
diametrically opposite direction. It matters 
not ; the result will justify him. The hover- 
ing horde vacillates no longer ; no word is 
spoken, no allegiance sworn ; his sovereignty 
is as instant and unquestioned as that of the 
queen bee ; one telepathic moment has 
transformed them into his disciples. 

It is here that the superiority of the 
hunting Mahatma to the religious variety 
makes itself felt. Like the Magic Carpet in 
the " Arabian Nights" he has the mystic 
power of transporting not only himself but 
his adherents. One moment and you may 
see him skilfully M knocking a gap " (i.e., 
unbuilding a wall) or opening a gate, as the 
case may be, while the disciples wait respect- 
fully ; the next they are lost, swallowed up 
in the Fifth Dimension, or wherever it is that 
Mahatmas move and have their being. It 
may be a quarter of an hour afterwards, it 
may be twenty minutes ; the hunt arrives, 
heated, something blown, and very proud of 



86 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

itself, at a road where there is a momentary 
check. There, drawn up, calm and 
omniscient, is the Mahatma, with the dis- 
ciples. He has seen the fox (who, it may 
not be out of place to note, is on these 
occasions always the largest dog-fox that the 
country has ever produced). He advises the 
huntsman, with perfect knowledge, where to 
cast his hounds, and once more betakes 
himself, with his party, to the Fifth Dimen- 
sion. During the various turns and chances 
of the average hunting run in rough country, 
he is met with on every road that is crossed 
by the hunt. He is a directory of the most 
obscure and unsuspected gaps, an amateur of 
padlocks, a Samson who can lift from their 
hinges the gates of Gaza, or any other gates 
that may intervene. He is present at all 
disasters, and acts as a sort of convalescent 
home for their victims, and as a rallying- 
place for those who have been thrown out. 

As I muse over his gifts, and the benevo- 
lence with which they are exercised, my heart 
warms to him and his compeers. Had I my 
way no hunt establishment should be without 
its own accredited Mahatma. He should be en- 
titled to the letters M. F. H. as unquestioningly 



HUNTING MAHATMAS 87 



as the Master. I would blazon them on 
his broad back (the Mahatma's figure is wont 
to be a fine one), plain for all men to see, 
and brand them on his ample sandwich- 
cass. " Mahatma to the Meaths! ,, Any 
man might be pleased to have some such an 
inscription on his tombstone. 11 Mahatma to 
the Blazers " might hold some hint of in- 
congruity ; yet, however blazing one may be, 
there are moments 

It has happened to me, in a remote part of 
the County Waterford, to have lost the 
hounds, and at the same moment to find 
myself confronted by a frowning bank, 
hollow-faced, afforested with furze, wholly, 
as it seemed to me, impassable. While I 
surveyed it in dejection the cry of the 
hounds was borne to me on the wind ; the 
music had a dying fall, they were running 
hard, and away from me. It was then that 
the voice of the local Mahatma fell like a 
falling star from the hillside above me. 

" Go on a small piece to the right and ye'll 
get a passage." 

I obeyed, and saw that hoof marks of 
cattle led to a cleft in the bank, so masked 
with furze bushes as to be invisible. I 



88 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

squeezed through it, and found the valley 
smiling before me, and the hounds still 
within reach. But the Mahatma had 
gone. 

I met him at the next check, cool and 
unruffled, silent as to the miraculous nature 
of his transit. 

" Ye're barefooted/' he said briefly. 




"A VOICE FELL LIKE A FALLING STAR 91 

I found that I had indeed lost a fore- 
shoe. 

Strange that such faculties as his should 
command so little general admiration ! Upon 
his final manifestation, which occurred after 
the fox had gone to ground, I heard the 
Master say brutally : 



HUNTING MAHATMAS 89 

"How the devil did you get here?" 
The Master had given his horse two bad 
cuts. 

The Mahatma maintained a Druid silence ; 
it was not for him to comment on the eternal 
supremacy of Mind over Matter. 



A PATRICK'S DAY HUNT 



A PATRICK'S DAY HUNT 



I wash meself every Sathurday morning, 
whether I want it or no and 'twas washing 
my face I was when William Sheehan came 
in the door, and it no more than ten o'clock 
in the morning. 

That's the way I remember 'twas a 
Sathurday, and Pathrick's Day was Monday. 

" God bless the work ! " says he. 

" You too," says I. 

" Would ye lend me the loan of a harness," 
says he, " to drive Anne Roche " — (that's 
his wife) — "to town on Pathrick's Day?" 

The dear knows, says I to meself, if I 
walked two mile asking a harness it isn't to 
drive that one Pd ask it ! 

" I will to be sure," says I, "and welcome, 
but is it to town you're goingon Pathrick's Day 
in place of going to Kyleranny ? Sure you 



94 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

know yourself there's the fun of Cork in Kyle- 

ranny when the Hunt's in it on a Holy-day ! 11 

" I believe so indeed," says he. 

" Faith you do believe it," says I. " Dye 
remember one time," I says, "when the 




M I WASH MESELF EVERY SATHURDAY MORNING M 

Hunt was in it, Stephen's Day it was, you 
comin down Knockranny Hill hoppin' a 
quarther of a mile on your one leg, and the 
other foot fasht in the stirrup, and the owld 
mare you had that time throttin' on always. 
The Smith said it was the pleasantest thing 
ever he seen ! " 

11 God be with the owld days ! " says 
William, " that was long ago times, before I 
was married," says he. 



A PATRICK'S DAY HUNT 95 

" Thrue for you ! M says I. 

u Will ye lend me the harness ? 91 says he 
to me again. 

"Come here now William, " says I, " you 
an' me is friends this many a year. There 
isn't one in the counthry I have as much 
wish for as yourself. The Divil sweep ye ! M 
says I. " Sure it's follying the Hunt you 
should be, in place of goin' drivin' a side-car 
to town like a servant boy ! M says I, " and 
you that was careing a puppy all the winter 
for the Hunt, the same as meself ! " 

"Ah, that was the grand pup!" says he. 
"'Twas a pity he died, and God knows," 
says he, "I dunno in the world what killed 
him, if it wasn't a bottle of varnish he dhrank 
one morning." 

Faith, says I to meself, it's aisy known 
what killed the poor pup. It isn't long our- 
selves'd live if we didn't get our victuals ! 

I drew out then, and I gave William a 
puck in the chest. 

"I'm tellin' you now," says I. "Dang 
the harness ye'll get from me on Pathrick's 
Day! No! But you'll throw the saddle 
on the pony a' Monday morning and you'll 
come out to the Hunt to jolly yourself!" 



96 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

" Sure the pony has the colour o' lameness 
on him since I had him at Cappagh Fair last 
Tuesday, under pigs," says he. " That was 
thirty mile on him." 

" Arrah ! what signifies that ? " says I, "that 
little horse is as tough as an eel ! " 

" And he have a sore place on his shesht, 
about as big as a thimble," says he. 

" And is it on his shesht you'd go put the 
saddle ? " says h 

" Well, it is not," says he. 

" And as to go putting a collar and harness 
on a crayture that has the skin sthripped," 
says I, "if it was an ass itself the polis'd be 
afther ye for it. " 

" Indeed I'm told so," says he. 

" Musha, Dual's cure to ye!" says I, 
"isn't it what ye can be tellin' your wife?" 
says I. " How simple ye are ! " says I. 

Not another word he spoke but to walk 
away out o' the house. 

" Ye have the man annoyed with your 
thricks, Conny," says me wife, " why wouldn't 
ye give him what he was axing and not to 
be blackguarding that way ? Maybe yerself 
wouldn't be so ready to go borrowing a 
harness for your wife ? " says she. 



A PATRICK'S DAY HUNT 97 

" Maybe if I was married to Anne Roche 
it isn't me razor she'd take to go cuttin' spuds 
for seed ? " says I. 

"Arrah, sit down to your breakfast, 
Conny," says she, 11 and have done with your 
chat ! " 

" Pm tellin* you," says I, "if Anne Roche 
goes to town on Pathrick's Day, it's her own 
two legs'll carry her ! " 

" Glory be to God ! " says me wife, " she'll 
be mad altogether ! She'll tear iron ! " says 
she. 

" Divil mend her ! " says L 

Now as for the foxy mare I had that time, 
I declare to ye if ye had her within in the 
stable, and to be keeping oats to her for two 
days, she'd have as much thricks and tashpy 
in her, and she'd be as anxious for the road 
as a lad that'd be goin' to a fair. 

If she was to be kept within always and 
getting what she'd ax of hay and oats, it's all 
would be about it she'd break the sidecar! 
(and faith, she was nigh handy to doin' that 
same one time !) But what can a crayture 
do that's working always, and getting black 
potatoes for her diet ? 

I went to her St. Pathrick's morning early, 



9 3 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

and the full up of a tin basin of oats in my 
hand. The very minute I opened the door : 

" Ah — hem ! " says she to me, this way. 

" The Divil go from you ! " says I, " wasn't 
the year long enough for you to get a cough, 
and not to be sick on Pathrick's Day ? And 
if ye were coughing the full o' the house ye'll 
not stop within to-day!" says I, "ye can 
have your choice thing of coughing to- 
morrow ! " says I. 

And b'lieve me, 'tis she that had that same. 

I rode her out quite and aisy, its no more 
than five mile to Kyleranny, and the two 
lads of sons I have was legging it out before 
me. 

" What have ye in the bottles? " says I to 
the eldest little fella when I passed them out. 

" Milk, Sir!" says he. 

" And what have ye in the bag ? " says I 
to the other lad. 

" Me boots, Sir," says he. 

I knew well that was a lie for them, but I 
said nayther here nor there to them. , 

When I was passing Macarthys, coming 
into Kyleranny, what was in it but William 
Sheehan's yella horse — " Shan Bui" is the 
name we has in this counthry for them yella 



A PATRICK'S DAY HUNT 99 

horses with the black sthripe on their back — 
and he outside the door, and a bag on his 
nose. 

Musha, more power to ye William ! says I 
to meself, ye stole aw r ay clever ! But indeed 




"IT'S ALL WOULD BE ABOUT IT SHE'D BREAK THE SIDE CAR !" 



its aisy known that Herself had the kay of 
the bin ! 

Himself came out then ; he was afther 
drinkin' a couple or three glasses o' porther 
to hearten himself, the poor fella, and he was 
'long with me from that out from first to last, 
but not a word good nor bad he spoke of the 
wife. 

The like o' the crowd of people that was 
in Kyleranny that day never you seen — 
side-cars, and carts, and phaytons, and all 



ioo SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

sorts, let alone them that was goin' huntin\ 
Ye wouldn't hardly know there was hounds 
in it at all with the dint of the people that'd 
be around them, and it'd be as good for you 
to thry to get into Heaven as to get past 
the cross roads. Ye'd lose your life cursin' 
before the owld women' d stand out from under 
your feet. Ye'd have to be going around 
them this way, the same as a person that'd be 
winding a watch. 

" Is it sick the Major is, that he's not in 
it?" says I to Tim Hurley the Whip (that's 
the son of an Aunt of mine by the mother), 
when I got to come at him, " and Johnny Daly 
riding Monaloo ? " 

" He has the 'fluenzy," says Tim. 

" Is it bad with him ? " says L 

"He's bad enough to-day," says he, "but 
yesterday he was clear dead altogether." 

" It's a pity anything would ail him," 
says I. 

The Major was a fine man, always, and 
his family was a fine family. Sure me father 
used to say that in owld times if ye went 
to the Big House ye'd get the smell o' roast 
beef when ye'd be no more than half way 
up the avenue, and there'd be dhrinkin' all 



A PATRICK'S DAY HUNT 101 

day and knockin' all night, and if ye axed 
the change of a half-crown, it wasn't in it. 

Faith, I said to John Daly, there wouldn't 
be any fun, nor no cursin' nor nothing, when 
the Major wouldn't be in it. 

" Maybe I might please ye yet before the 
day's out," says he, lookin' at me ugly enough. 
" Time's up ! " says he then, and with that he 
comminced to bugle, and away with himself 
and Tim and the dogs, out north for 
Dempsey's Gorse. 

Well, you'd have to pity William Sheehan 
if ye seen him that time follyin' the hounds 
out the road from Kyleranny to Dempsey's 
Gorse. As soon as me bowld Shan Bui felt 
the horses throttin, and batthering, and 
belting the road afther him, he made all sorts 
of shapes and forms of himself, and as for 
William, if it wasn't for the almighty howlt 
he cot of the crupper of the owld saddle, he 
was a dead man. 

11 Blasht your sowl, William! " says owld 
Dan Donovan to him, "if you would save 
your bones," says he, " you will lead him out 
now for a mile till you're coming up to 
Dempsey's, and when ye have the hill agin 
him then's the time ye'll get satisfaction ! " 



102 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

Well, William had great courage the same 
day. He held his howlt on the little horse 
out to Dempsey's, and when we come to the 
gap into the southern field, below the house, 
Johnny Daly went away in up through the 
land. Well, at the third field west of where 
Dempsey had the turnips two years ago, 
there was about three foot of a stone wall 
before us. The yella pony jumped it very 
crabbed, but the minute he landed, and he 
havm' the fall o' the ground before him, he 
made a ball of himself, and he bet a lash on 
Dan Donovan's owld white mare that wasn't 
sayin' a word, only goin' from step to step 
over the wall, like a Christian, and with that 
he legged it away down the hill ! 

B'lieve me, William was promising God 
that time that if he come safe out of it he'd 
howld to the side-car and not ax to go 
huntin' agin ! But indeed poor William had 
great courage all through, only for the wife. 

" Whatever way it is," says I to Dan 
Donovan, and we wheeling round the brink 
o' the hill, " every horse that's in it will have 
his 'nough of grass ate before the dogs'll 
have them furze bushes rattled out. and, 
I'm tellin' ye, that'll quieten them." 



A PATRICK'S DAY HUNT 103 

" The divil a fox is there in it at all," says 
Dan. 

"Well, now," says William, " there's a 
woman of the Sullivans' that has a little 
house beyond, is afther tellin' me a while ago 
himself and his pups has a nest in it some 
place. Last week she seen them walkin' in 
and out of it, like young pigs." 

" Maybe she didn't tel! ye what way her 
sons has them pause cuted with greyhounds 
and bulldogs and all sorts ! " says Dan. 

Well, divil such screechin' ever ye heard 
as what the dogs comminced then down in 
the furze. 

"That's Fiddler !" says Dan, " that's a 
great hound ! Maybe it's a cat he have 
nooked in it ! " 

" Faith, well is he called Fiddler ! " says I, 
" he roars most furious." 

" Look over ! Look over at Johnny 
Daly!" says William, "what bugling he 
have now! If it's a cat itself, what harm 
would it do them to ate her! It's little 
ateing there is in the like of her ; them poor 
craytures of dogs does be starved with the 
hunger ; and that's what has them yowling 
this way." 



io 4 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

" Look at Johnny skelpin' round the bog ! " 
says I, " mind ye, he's souple yet, and he as 
gross as a bullock, and a back on him as long 
as a double -ditch ! " 

" Whisht!" says Dan, "that's the Whip 
man screechin' to the dogs ! They have a 
fox surely ! " 

"Ye lie!" says William, " that's Jeremi'h 
DrishcolPs screech, I seen him within in the 
furze. Hi cock ! Jeremi'h ! Bate him out of 
it boy!" 

" Ah, that's a fine sober fox, " says owld 
Dan, " he'll not lave his den for them. It's 
a pity now," says he, "that the Major 
wouldn't have a fox keeping in a stable, 
and on a holiday, or the like o' that, to put a 
halter on him and lead him out before the 
hounds. Begob, he'd give them a nice 
chase ! " 

With that all the lads on the hills around 
let a roar out o' them. 

" Hulla! Hulla! Hulla!" says they. "Look 
at the cat ! Look at he ! Look at he ! Down 
him ! Land him ! " 

Every dog that was in it legged it to the 
roar. 

Well, if ye seen Johnny Daly comin down 



A PATRICK'S DAY HUNT 105 

the hill that time ye'd think the fairies was 
afther him. He'd jump the house, he was 
that mad ! 

" Plase God he'll not come our way ! " 
says I. 

I declare to ye now, if you seen Jeremi'h 
Driscoll leppin' the furze bushes, and Johnny 
Daly afther him with the whip, ye'd as soon 
be lookin' at it as ateing your dinner. And 
as for Tim Hurley, you'd have to pity him, 
sthrivin' to go around every hound that was 
in it. 

" The dogs have her ate ! More power ! 
They have the owld cat ate ! " says Smartheen, 
that was sitting up on the wall behind us. 
"She was dam cute! I thought she'd besht 
them ! The shkamer ! " 

'Twasn't long afther that till Tim Hurley 
had all the dogs gothered and counted, and 
'tis he that got his own trouble with them ! 
Them poor fellas of Whips catches great 
hardship. Johnny Daly faced away up the 
hiil agin them, and the whole o' thim afther 
him. 

" It's for Bludth he's making," says I, " and 
if that's to be the way, it's there ye'll see 
leppin!" says I. " Tighten yerself now 



to6 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

Dan ! " says I, " thim banks above in Bludth 
does be made up very crabby, and as for 
walls, it's not stones at all they has in them, 
but bog mould and slates ! " 

Well, for all, poor William Sheehan had 
great courage that day. 

" Your sowl to the divil, Smartheen ! " 
says he. " Knock a few o' thim stones, 
boy !" 

With that he gives the yella pony a 
salamandher of a belt, and he coorsed him 
about three turns around the field the way 
he'd knock the wind out o' him, in regard of 
he being out on grass always, and when he 
thought he felt him jaded it's then he faced 
him in at the wall. But in spite of all he 
jumped it very sevare and very ugly. Them 
Shan Buies is very piggish that way. 

Meself, I don't like them flippant leppers ; 
I'd like a horse that will put his two forefeet 
into the butt o' the wall, and give ye time to 
say two Aves and a Pather before he leps 
out. 

" As for my mare," says I to Dan, the 
same time, " she boxed her knee a fortnight 
ago, and it's big with her yet, and faith she's 
avouring it always. And indeed that's a 



A PATRICK'S DAY HUNT 107 

cross place in any case," says I. " God 
bless ye, Smartheen," says I, " throw down a 
couple more o' them stones ! M 

I'm tellin' ye Smartheen was a decent 
civil boy always. 

We follied on the bohireens afther that, 
ye'd think 'twas a wedding with all that was 
in it ! Throttin' and steppin' their horses, 
and the hounds and the ladies and gentlemen 
and all out before us. 

" Faith," says I, " they'd get as nice a 
shweat this way as w T hat they'd get in any 
quadhreel whatever in Dublin Castle," says 
I, "and as for jogglin' and jowltin'," says I, 
"any one'd be the better o' this in his health 
while he'll live," says I. 

Indeed, all that was in it was teeming 
down w T ith the heat before we were up into 
Bludth at all. 

Comin up out o' the bohireen there was a 
stick left across in the end of it, keepin' 
in calves ; a middlin' heavy pole, and the 
two ends fasht. If it was in the Cork Park 
races ye wouldn't see as much fun as 
what we knocked out of it with young Tom 
Dennehy ! Sure he was ridin' the Docthor's 
grey mare, an' he dhressed out, and grand 



io8 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

yalla gaiters on him, and he in dhread of his 
life! 

" Dennehy took great use out o' the 
bohireens all through ! " says one of the lads 
" 'tis time for him to throw a lep for us now ! " 

It's well the Docthor wasn't looking at 
them that time, and they weltin' the mare 
with switches and stones, and Dennehy 
howlding her back from the lep when she'd 
be gethered for it. — Begob ! he fell heavy 
when the crayture jumped in the spite of him ! 
And there's where the fun was ! 

Ye wouldn't blame him to be afraid if it 
wasn't for the dirty little boasting he has 
always. But indeed 'twould stun any one to 
hear the talk of the Dennehys. 

" Mind yourself now, William," says Dan, 
afther the three of us had a place made out 
above on the hill for ourselves to stand aisy. 
" The hill tops is lakes afther the rain," says 
he, ' 'though be Jingo ! " says he, " that little 
horse went over the hill very knacky ! " 

" Look at Smartheen comin' down the 
bohireen over!" says I, " what have he in 
the bag ? Ye'd say it was a side o' bacon 
with all the dogs that's snortin' afther it " 

" Be dom ! " says William, " but it's a fox ! 



A PATRICK'S DAY HUNT 109 

Look at Johnny Daly that has all his own 
dogs dhrove in under the wall. B'lieve me, 
them two has it settled out ! We'll see sport 
now," says he, "afther Smartheen'll throw 
down the owld bag and give the fox a couple 
of kicks for to rise his heart for him ! " 

Well, what it was vexed Johnny Daly I 
dunno, but he was mad altogether ! He 
lepped out the wall before him, and he as 
wicked with the passion as that he didn't 
roar, nor say a word, till he had Smartheen 
cot by the coat and the whip ruz to him to 
sthrike him ! Ye wouldn't know what was 
the two o' thim sayin', but Smartheen thought 
to run, and 'twas then Johnny cot the bag 
secondly to take it from him. Every lad 
that was in it comminced to cheer and to 
bawl when they seen the two o' thim in 
howlts. I believe meself let a few screeches, 
but as for William, if it was his father that he 
seen took by the polis, an' he dhrunk, he 
wouldn't have more nature for him than what 
he showed to that boy. 

" Hon-a-maun-dhiaoul / He'll have him 
dhragged off the horse ! " says Dan. 

" He will! He will!" says I, "he's dam 
stubborn ! " 



no SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

Maybe if it wasn't for the way Johnny 
crooked the owld horse with the spur, 
sthrivin' to squeeze the leg around him, he'd 
have held his howlt, but a Turk couldn't 
stand it with the hoist that owld Monaloo let 
out of him. 

a He's down!" says Dan. " He's dead! 
Tis on his head he's fallen ! " 

" Ye're a liar!" says William, "it's on the 
fox he fell ! The big mastheen of a tyrant ! " 

'Twasn't long then till the whole of us was 
gethered lookin' at Johnny, and he ravin' like 
a cat in the measles, and every bit that was 
on him desthroyed with the gutther, and 
says he to Smartheen, givin' a bitter big 
curse : 

" It's all I wish," says he, " that ye were a 
football before me ! Ye wouldn't last me 
three kicks ! " says he. 

'Twould dhrive a chill through your 
stomach to be leshnin' to the talk he had. 
And sure the fox was as flat as the palm o' 
yer hand within in the bag ! 

" Oh, fie, fie ! " says Dan, "our fox is gone 
from us ! " 

Indeed, ye wouldn't like to be lookin' at 
the crayture. Johnny Daly's a very weighty 



A PATRICK'S DAY HUNT 



1 1 1 



man, and sure its the last sthraw, as 
they say, put the hump on the camel. But 
in any case Smartheen battled it out well, 
and all that was in it was givin' him 
applauses. 

Yerself knows Bludth, that there's as many 
hooks and pooks in it as that a person'd be 
moidthered before he'd have them gone 
around, let alone dogs, and horses. 

" Brieve me," says Dan, "'tis as good for 
them to give over ; sure we're sick and tired 
waitin' on them. The fox that keeps this 
hill has a sthrong dungeon, and sorra fear of 
him to lave it for to be sporting for them. 
What a fool he is ! " 

" Yerrah shut yer mouth, Dan !" says I, 
" thim lads on the paikeen south is screechin' 
like as if they seen somethin 5 ! What have 
ye over there? " says I, lettin' a roar. 

"Yerrah, what are they sayin at all?" 
says William, " it's like pigs talkin ! Sure I 
can't understand them no more than if I was 
a fool ! " 

With that the dogs comminced to gallop, 
and away with the whole of us. Well, 
William had great courage always. 

14 Tis down the gully we should go, and 



ii2 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

we'll be before them whatever side they'll 
turn," says he. 

"Musha, the divil go from ye!" says I, 
** maybe it's down the chimbly ye'd have us 




" HE'S GONE NORTH AGIN ! " 



go ! Sure a man itself couldn't stand in it, 
it's that steep ! " 

" No, nor ten men couldn't ! " says Dan. 

" If it was the ugliest place in life, ye'll be 
hard set to find a betther," says William. 

Well, afther all, we went down in it, as 
well as another, and you may say there was 
scroogin' and scramblin', and thim that was 



A PATRICK'S DAY HUNT 113 

afther us was bet down on us like a load o' 
hay, and thim that was before us cursin' black 
and blue for the way ourselves was squeezin' 
them. 

1 1 Faith! We're as throng as three in a 
bed!" says Dan, "the dogs could run away 
in their choice place and divil a one of us 
would know what side they went ! " 

11 He's gone north agin ! " says a lad above 
on the hill, and every one that was in it 
turned about in the gully and up with them 
up it agin. 

" Maybe if it was himself was down in it 
he wouldn't have so much chat about goin' 
north!" says I, "and we twistin' in it like 
ye'd be dancin' a reel." 

But as for Williams little horse, if it was 
the roof of the chapel he was on he'd run 
in it like a bird, rocks or slates or any 
other thing, he wouldn't give a dang for 
them. 

The sight'd lave your eyes if ye were 
lookin' at us afther that, comin' down out of 
Bludth, with slidin' and slippin', and buck 
leps and all sorts, and the dogs yowlin' aw r ay 
through the counthry from us. Great banks 
there was below in the fields. Every one o' 

H 



ii4 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

them that we come into my mare would crouch 
like a hen before it, and she'd let a screech, and 
over with her, and wouldn't lave an iron on 
it. That was her routheen always, only 
when she soured by the dint of the Shan 
Bui, that was baulking with William out 
before her. When I'd have to dhrive her 
over before me she'd be waitin' on me the far 
side of the fence, ateing grass, till I'd come 
afther her. She is a grand mare indeed, and 
high ginthry does be jumpin' mad to buy her 
foals. 

'Twasn't long till we come up to the dogs, 
where they were searchin' and snuffin' round 
the four corners of the field, and divil a smell 
could they get. We seen a lad then standing 
up on a rock, waving. 

" He's gone wesht up the road ! " says 
he. 

" Did ye see him ? " says Johnny Daly. 

" Faith I did so ! " says me lad, "and he 
was the most courageous thief of a fox ever 
ye seen ! " 

I went up to the lad. 

" Where did ye get the two coats, ye're 
afther throwing behind the wall ? " says I. 
" Tis aiqual to you where I got them/' 



A PATRICK'S DAY HUNT 115 

says me lad, " ax no questions and ye'll be 
told no lies ! " 

14 Faith, there's no occasion," says I, "sure 
it's you is good-natured to be carryin' the 
two coats that was on my two sons this 
morning," says I, " and you bloated with 
running," says I 

Divil a word he said, but away with 
him. 

"Thim two young lads o' mine will 
be apt to get a bating before night ! " 
says I to meself, "and they're in the 
want of it ! " 

" Forrad ! Forrad ! " says Johnny to the 
dogs, that was whining most peevish round 
and about, and you'd think if he never had a 
nose on him he'd get the smell o' the paraffin 
oil, it was that parsevarin'. 

Two mile we legged it then, and the 
biggest wails in the counthry was in it, and 
God help them that had to be building 
them afther us ! Comin' up Milleenavillen, 
William and a few more of us turned about 
round the butt o' the hill, for fear we'd be 
bet out entirely, and it wasn't long till we 
met with a great mountaineer of a big bank 
down in the widow Brinckley's land. Meself 



( 



n6 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

dhrew out back a couple o' fields, and 
knocked a few sticks that was in a gap, but 
me brave William didn't do but to let a roar 
to the Shan Bui, and to land him two clouts 
in the jaw comin , into the bank. The Shan 
Bui lepped up on to it, as loose as a hare, 
with the fright, but what'd be before him 
only posts that the widow Brinckley had 
dhrove in the far side o' the bank, and ropes 
on them, and clothes hangin' out on them. 
He put a hump on himself like a ferret when 
he seen them, but if all the polis in Ireland 
was below mindin' the clothes, he'd have to 
change his feet and lep out on to them, with 
the gallop he had on him, and he cot the two 
hind legs in the ropes, and himself and 
William and the clothes was threwn down in 
the field. 

"He's dead!" says I. "'Twould kill him 
if he was a bull ! " 

" 'Twould, or if he was an ass," says 
young Tom Dennehy, that was on the 
eastern side o' the fence. 

Well afther all, not a bit in the world was 
on him, only a tooth he had was stirrin' 
always in his head afther it. But I'm tellin' 
ye, the widow Brinckley faced him the same 



A PATRICK'S DAY HUNT it 7 

as Jeffrey faced his cat, as they say, in regard 
of some sort of a petticoat the Shan Bui had 
dhraggin' afther him. 

Out with the whole of us then from her 
into the road and left her afther us, and she 
dhrawing down saints and divils and the 
price o' the petticoat on us. 

"It couldn't be," says I, "that its into 
Williams land the dogs is facin' now ! Look 
at the line they're going beyond over the 
hill!" 

" Begob, it is ! " says Dan. 

" If that be so it'd be betther for William 
to go under the sod ! " says I. 

Faith, I believe the divil was always 
busy with the Shan Bui ! The very minute 
he got the smell o' the road under his feet, he 
comminced firin' and lashin', and when he 
had William loosened, it's then he legged 
it. 

" He's diddled now entirely ! " says I, 
" that horse won't stand or stay till he lands 
him within his own yard. The Lord look 
down in pity on William this day ! Herself 11 
ate the face off him ! " 

Begob, the Shan Bui kept the one gallop 
always, the same as a thrain, and we battherin' 



n8 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

the road afther him, and the dogs and all 
screechin' down the hill before us. Your 
heart'd rise if ye were listenin' to them ! 

" He'll run to the say with him ! " says 
Dan, " the two o' them'll be cliffted ! " 

" Sorra fear of him ! " says I, "what a fool 
he is ! Look at him now, tightening himself 
comin , down to the gate ! " 

Begannies ! The villyan wheeled into the 
yard as nate as a bicycle, and every hound in 
the pack was in it before him ! 

-?'f -X* 

Twas the week afther, and I goin' to owld 
Dick Courtney's funeral (the Lord have 
mercy on him) and who would I meet only 
Anne Roche! 

Well now I declare to ye, divil such an 
ateing ever I got from any woman! The 
dogs wouldn't pick me bones afther her! 
Sure she pitched all that was within and 
without to the Seventeen Divils. 

And sure there was no blame on me at all, 
only she seen them two young whipsthers o' 
mine when they thrown the owld bag they 
had with the ferret's bed back into her hen- 
house, and they near dead with thrailing it 
out through the counthry. 



A PATRICK'S DAY HUNT 119 

A half a gallon of paraffin they had soaked 
in it. If it was herself and not meself had 
one and eightpence lost by it she might be 
talkin'. 

I'm told she gave William the Seven 
Shows of Cork on the head of it, but indeed 
poor William had great courage the same 
day, 



ALSATIA 



ALSATIA 

No doubt the fact that it was forbidden, or 
mainly forbidden, lent it a considerable charm. 
The prohibitory edict was a semi-obsolete 
Statute of — say — the reign of Edward VI. 
Authorities, when driven to their last trench, 
fell back on it, declaring that no respectable 
children were allowed in stable-yards, or 
ever had been. We never argued the point. 
At an early age we had learned the folly of 
hardening fluid prohibition into adamant by 
argument ; but we did not cease from visiting 
the yard. 

As I look back I see a procession advanc- 
ing from the dimmest and most ancient places 
of memory, a procession as varied as that 
which in Maclise's picture slowly winds away 
from the Ark. Heading it are two figures 
who, in their prime, ranked equally as the 



i2 4 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

over-lords of the stable-yard, Old Michael, 
and the copper-coloured turkey cock. When 
one has attained an altitude of some consider- 
able number of inches over five feet, it is 
hard to estimate the terror that a robust 
turkey cock can inspire in a person, however 
charged with valiant intention, of little more 
than forty-eight inches over all. The 
copper-coloured turkey cock was subtle as he 
was vicious ; he appreciated as well as any 
Boer General the moral effect of a surprise. 
To face him, to go forth with intent to battle, 
was possible, even enjoyable, but at this 
moment I can feel the panic, blinding and 
disintegrating, of being taken in the rear ; I 
remember the sound of the striding claws 
on the gravel behind me, the rustle of the 
stiff wings ; were I but four feet high, and 
still wore short socks, I am convinced that I 
would run as hard if similarly attacked. 

Coincident with the time that the turkey 
cock held sway, one of us had somehow 
acquired a dog, a meek, female creature, 
always engaged either prospectively or re- 
trospectively in family affairs, and loaded 
with a spirit broken by long beatings from 
the back-door. She was white, with very 



ALSATIA 125 

sore eyes and a long tail ; one of her relatives 
professed to be a bull-terrier, a fact much 
dwelt on by her proprietor ; but beyond the 
soreness of her eyes there was but little to 
substantiate it. 

" Those village dogs had better look out," 
said the proprietor. " May-fly'll most likely 
kill them if she meets them." 

She had come to us in May, and the name 
held for us the glamour of a hundred springs. 
Among the village dogs was one, contemp- 
tible beyond its fellows, known to us as Boiled 
Rice (a food specially abhorred by us, which 
her coat and complexion were supposed to 
resemble). Boiled Rice was generally on hand 
at or about the lodge gates, and one day May- 
fly was formally led forth to slaughter her. 
Boiled Rice was a small and disgusting 
creature, very old, and nearly toothless, and 
without reputation as a fighter. None the less, 
when located by our scouts she did not refuse 
battle. On the contrary, she bustled up to 
May-fly, and, rising upon the shortest pair 
of hind legs ever put under any four-legged 
creature save a lizard, laid her paws upon 
her shoulders and yapped harshly in her face. 
Then, if ever, the blood of the bull terrier 



126 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

relation should have come into action; for 
some unfortunate reason that was the precise 
moment at which it ebbed. Our champion 
gave a squeak of resentful alarm, and, disen- 
gaging herself from the enemy, fled unpre- 
tentiously, unhesitatingly, without a hint of 
reprisal. For our parts we stoned and 
hunted Boiled Rice more mercilessly than 
ever after this overthrow. An unexpected 
aspect in the character of May-fly was that 
she, who fled from every living thing, 
remained unmoved by the ferocities of the 
copper turkey cock. At a word from 
us, and it was a word often spoken, she 
would take him by his scarlet and bulbous 
beard and gallop him off into remote places, 
from whence, long afterwards, he might be 
seen gloomily returning, a discredited and 
bedraggled despot. It was her sole achieve- 
ment, and one greatly valued by us, but, 
unfortunately, it found no favour with the 
authorities, and one night she and the then 
puppy — she always had a puppy or so in her 
lair behind the potato house — were swept. 

Neck and neck with the copper turkey 
cock came Old Michael, equal in malignity, 
but less active. He was nominally a stable 



"SENDING 



HIS WILD VOICE ABkOAD 




ALSATIA 127 

helper, and was also a self-constituted spy in 
the service of the government — or rather of 
the governess — and a more implacable tale- 
bearer never truckled to authorities. 

"The two o' them is round back o' the 
cow-house, Miss. It's now this minute I 
seen them climbing out over the garden 
gate ! " 

Thus we, prone on the slant of the cow- 
house roof, under the drooping laurel 
branches, with our pockets crammed with 
green, young apples, have listened, panting, 
to our betrayal. Any other man on the 
place would have lied in our cause with 
chapter and verse. 

There was a tradition about Old Michael 
that he had once been bitten by a mad dog, 
and had thereupon, as a recognised antidote, 
killed the dog and eaten its liver. There 
was something luridly attractive about the 
transaction, and we often discussed the pos- 
sibility as to whether the liver had thoroughly 
played its part, and whether it might not 
be that he suffered from slight chronic hydro- 
phobia, and that, at any moment, he might 
turn snarling and foaming upon us. His 
ordinary manner lent itself to the fancy, his 



128 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

rages were so explosive, his yells at the 
horses under his charge so ungoverned, so 
screeching. One of these was a white pony 
that might have walked straight out of a fairy 
tale, in which he would have been exclusively 
employed as palfrey to the principal Princess. 
He had been bought through, or from, we 
never quite knew which, an old farmer, one 
Jer Sullivan, who lived at the head of a long 
and lonely Atlantic cove, and was as much 
fisherman as farmer, and more beggar than 
either. His main source of income was a 
petition in which was feelingly narrated the 
manner of death that befell his only horse. 

" She was clifted one night by dogs 
hunting her, and drowned in the tide, and I 
have no one now to trust to, only the Lord." 

Thus sorrowed the petition, Christmas by 
Christmas, getting a little browner as time 
went by, but no less insatiable. One windy 
Christmas Eve Jer Sullivan and the petition 
had appeared as usual, together with the horde 
of old women who, by long-established 
custom, received a dole on that day. 

In the twilight of the December morning 
they came by twos and threes, fluttering up 
the avenue, looking, with their long dark 



ALSATIA 129 

cloaks and thin red legs and feet, like the 
choughs that used to breed in the neighbour- 
ing cliffs. Upon the wet grass on the way 
round to the stable yard they squatted in a 




" ANCIENT WIDOWHOOD AND SPINSTERDOM " 



gabbling row, waiting for the coming forth 
of the master, and chaffing Jer Sullivan for 
having joined the ranks of ancient widowhood 
and spinsterdom, with the unquenchable 
spirit that lurks in the oldest and most forlorn 



i 3 o SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

Irish peasant woman. On this occasion, Jer, 
having exhausted his stock of repartee, 
planted himself on the hall-door steps. 

" Is the granddada comin' ?" he called 
through the window to us, assembled in 
the hall. His face, wrinkled and grizzly, 
was pressed against the glass, his filmy eye 
was full of unutterable things. 

"I have a present for ye!" he said, as 
soon as we had opened the door. 

To expect a begging petition, and instead 
of it to be threatened with a gift, is something 
disconcerting, but we were young, too young 
to know the mental and financial wear and 
tear involved by a present from such as Mr. 
Sullivan. 

" What would you be sayin' to a nate little 
pony?" went on Jer, with a beguiling smile 
that was staked out by four huge yellow 
teeth. 11 Sure a friend o' mine has him below 
at the gate. Wait awhile now " 

He paused, with an artist's knowledge of 
effect, and strayed away down the avenue in 
the indefinite manner of beggar men. 

The ceremonial of the gifts pursued its 
usual course. The Master moved down the 
row, a silence of expectation before him a 



ALSATIA 131 

cackle of blessings behind him ; as each 
received her dole she gathered her ragged 
plumage about her and flitted away, blessings 
still flowing from her as the steam-clouds trail 
out behind a train. 

To us again, after breakfast, returned Jer 
Sullivan, and, incredible sight, he was leading 
a small pony. It was about thirteen hands 
high ; in colour, dirty white, with a very wild 
eye, a figure like a toast rack, and a long tail. 

"Sure your Honour knows the breed of 
him well. His dam was by the Kerry 
Diamond, the same as your Honours coach- 
horses, the grandest horses in the globe of 
Ireland!" 

Jer took a pull, and the Master eyed the 
pony in deep silence ; the pony eyed us and 
snorted apprehensively. 

" Sure the granddam of that one," resumed 
Jer, " was no loftier size than himself, an' she 
took a load out o' Banthry, an' a woman, an* 
three bonnives, an' two bundles o' spades, 
an' seven hours was all she took comin' to 
Tragumena Strand." 

"What do you want for him? n said the 
Master. To say that our hearts leaped in us 
at this approach to business, is to put the 



i 3 2 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

thing very mildly. They rolled and rioted 
like porpoises in a summer sea, what time 
the Master, and Jer, and Jimmy Hosford, the 
coachman, who had joined the action irre- 
pressibly, moved round and round in the 
slow orbits of the deal. The fiction that the 
pony was a present had been abandoned, 
the thing had narrowed to a duel between 
Jer Sullivan and Jimmy Hosford. The 
Master had made his offer — £§ } I believe — 
and had strolled away. 

u There isn't as much condition on him as'd 
bait a hook," said Jimmy Hosford. 

" Oh, Jimmy ! " we screamed as one man, 
" he's a lovely " 

* Ah, God help ye ! " said Jimmy Hosford, 
washing his hands of a bargain in which he 
had to suffer such collaborators. 

" My darlin' childhren," said Jer in a hoarse 
whisper to us, "don't mind for he bein' a 
small bit thin an wake in himself; its 
what ails him " — the whisper deepened and 
thickened — 11 he was ridden — by nights ! " he 
paused awfully ; " wouldn't I find him in the 
mornings bate out an' sweatin' ; an' signs on 
it, the world wouldn't make him cross run- 
nin' wather ! 99 



ALSATIA 133 

"Who rode him ? M said we, thrilling to the 
implied mystery. 

Jer looked right and left over his shoulders. 

" Those People!" said he. 

A fairy-ridden pony! It needed but that 
touch of romance. The pony was bought. 
£5 and a weakling heifer calf were the 
terms finally agreed to. The explanation 
offered subsequently by Old Michael that it 
was the Tragumena boys that took the pony 
by nights for blagyarding, and to ride him 
in the tide, was dismissed with deserved 
contempt ; the pony was called Fairy, and a 
better never bolted in a snaffle, or kicked its 
rider over its head when invited to jump a 
stream. 

Those who have in any measure dipped 
below the surface of stable yard politics, can 
hardly fail to have become aware, even in a 
minor degree, of the subtle relations existing 
between the house dogs and the yard cats. 
That an understanding, almost amounting to 
a treaty, obtains, there can be no reasonable 
doubt. That the dogs are ashamed of it 
is certain ; that the cats are not, is a fact 
bound up in the character of cats, who are 
never ashamed of anything. But yesterday, 



134 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

unsuspected and unseen, I viewed a typical 
instance of the strange and chilly truce that 
holds in the ashpit when the house dogs, the 
yard cats, the turkey cock, and, most im- 
placably hated of all by all, the pensionnaire 
hound mother and her brood, feasted horribly 
and illicitly among cinders and refuse. The 
house dogs, furtively and hurriedly, with ears 
laid back, and guilty pauses in mid-bone ; 
the hound mother grossly and jealously, 
something disposed to truculence ; the turkey 
cock contemptibly, with sunken tail, and 
wattles of faded pink, prepared to skip four 
times his own length if the hound mother so 
much as looked at him. 

Of the whole party the hound puppies and 
the cats alone showed to any advantage. 
The puppies, jovially unaware of the 
momentousness of each instant, sprawled and 
croaked over the woolly shin bone of a lamb ; 
the cats were unalterably dignified, nibbling 
with deliberate daintiness the remains of a 
long-interred cod-fish. A millennial peace 
rested upon the scene. 

It was possibly half an hour later, when 
those ineffable snobs, the house dogs, basking 
in the smiles of the aristocracy, had their 



ALSATIA 135 

attention drawn to the creeping grey form 
of the yard Tom, making fowling observa- 
tions in the shrubbery. Like twin bolts from 
a thunder-cloud they sped on the chase ; two 
highly connected white fox-terrier ladies, 
shrieking shrill threats at the intruding 
vermin. No wonder the yard Tom galloped. 
Yet the close observer could not but notice 
that as soon as the distance from the quarry 
had been reduced to some three or four feet, 
it remained fixed at that. In that nicely 
maintained interval was embodied one of the 
most immutable clauses of the treaty. 

The treaty, however, and all connected 
with it, were of the most artificial and trifling 
to that child of nature, the hound mother. 
She, like her many predecessors, pretended to 
no higher sphere of operations than the 
stable yard. 

" The care of my children and the surveil- 
lance of the ashpit," she seemed to say, c< are 
all I demand/' 

But, like her predecessors, a more accom- 
plished and wide ranging thief never jumped 
on to a kitchen table, or smirked hypocri- 
tically outside a hall door on the chance of 
making a dash upon the dining-room. It is 



136 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

not long since that history, for the twentieth 
time, repeated itself. 

" The ham ! the ham ! " wailed from the 
dining-room the voice of the mistress. 
" Niobe has stolen the ham ! " 

The sequel was given by the laundry- 
woman, herself long versed in the ways of 
the stable yard, and of hound mothers. 

" I was west in the field spreading the 
clothes, when I seen herself sthretched above 
on the hayrick. Divil blow the stir that was 
out of her ! I knew by her she was at some- 
thing ! An 1 afther that I dunno why she 
wouldn't bursht with all the wather she 
dhrank ! She has the divil's own inside ! " 



SICKNESS AND 
HEALTH" 



"IN SICKNESS AND IN 
HEALTH" 



When I first heard these words I was not 
highly impressed by them, or by anything at 
the moment except the redness of the bride- 
groom's nose, and the surprising manner in 
which one of " the young ladies' " dresses 
had been coerced into fitting the bride. The 
solemnities of the service passed, in every 
sense, over my head, which was then not 
much higher than the table at which the 
priest stood ; indeed, it was only by putting 
forth the fullest wriggling powers of child- 
hood that I was able to gloat in comfort on 
the brides blushes from a loophole between 
the turf-flavoured folds of her mother's 
Galway cloak and the repressive elbow of 
my elder brother. Why the ceremony 
should have taken place in the vestry I 



i 4 o SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

cannot say, beyond that it was a custom in 
the little Roman Catholic Chapel of which I 
write ; just as it was in those friendly days a 
custom with us to go to the marriages of the 
tenants, and to take our share of the blessing 
and the sprinkled holy water. 

The accustomed gold, silver, and copper 
were laid on the book by the bridegroom, 
the portentous words were spoken, with 
the melancholy Galway accent adding its 
emphasis to them, and at the next interval 
the priest opened the window behind him. 

" Run down to Mick Leonards for a coal," 
he said in Irish to some one outside, and 
then proceeded with a most sound and 
simple exordium to the newly married pair. 

In a few minutes there appeared in the 
open window a hand holding a live coal of turf 
in a bent stick. I can see it yet, the pale fire 
in the white ash of the sod, thrust between 
us and the blue sky, and the priests hand put 
out to take it, but I cannot remember now 
what was its mission, whether to light a 
candle or incense. 

After this came a sprinkling with holy 
water with something that nearly resembled 
a hearth-brush. A drop fell into my open 



"IN SICKNESS AND IN HEALTH" i 4l 

mouth as I stood gaping with the detestable 
curiosity of my age, and its peculiar, slightly 
brackish flavour is always the impression that 
comes first when I recall that day. There 
was a long business of hand shakings and 
huggings, and the wedding party squeezed 
itself out of the narrow vestry doorway, with 
hearts fully attuned to the afternoons enter- 
tainment. 

At the gate some shaggy horses were tied 
up, and having clambered on to one of these, 
much as a man would climb a tree, the 
bridegroom hauled his bride up behind him, 
and started for home at a lumbering gallop. 
Shouting and whooping, the other men got on 
their horses and pursued, and the whole 
clattering, bumping cavalcade passed out of 
sight, leaving us transfixed in admiration of 
the traditional 14 dragging home" of the 
bride. For me the only remaining recollec- 
tions of the day are of a surfeit in the bed- 
room of the brides mother, where in 
gluttonous solitude I partook of hot soda- 
bread, half a glass of luscious port, and a 
boiled egg ; while the less honoured guests 
in the kitchen outside harangued and sang 
songs, and drank the wine of the country in 



i 4 2 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

its integrity. My wedding garment was, I 
recollect, a holland " waggoner/' loosely girt 
by a shiny black belt with a brass serpent 
buckle. At no subsequent wedding breakfast 
have I been as enjoyably dressed, and, as a 
natural consequence, at none have I eaten as 
much. 

As my first distinct glimpse into matrimony 
it stands far back and detached ; after it, in the 
Bayeux tapestry of childhood, horses, dogs, 
and baffled governesses moved on in untiring 
confusion, for periods of unmeasured time, 
before the subject again presented itself. 

There lives in my memory a Sunday 
morning in spring, when the little beech 
leaves were poised like pale green moths 
among the bare branches, and the northerly 
showers whipped the lambs into shelter. The 
servants had gone in a body to early mass, 
leaving the preparations for breakfast in the 
hands of Tom Cashen, a trusted friend and 
counsellor, whose ordinary business it was to 
attend to the affairs of the yard and its pigs. 

There was soda-bread to be watched in the 
oven, there were saucepans and kettles 
resolved upon untimely boiling, there was 
porridge to be stirred, and there was also 



"IN SICKNESS AND IN HEALTH" 143 

Tom Cashen's dog, a hungry, furtive thing, 
capable at any moment of clearing the table 
of all that was upon it. The moment came, 
as it comes to those who wait with complete 
attentiveness, and Tom Cashen's dog did not 
let it slip. It was during the retributions of 
justice that the bread burned in the oven, the 
coffee boiled over on the range, and the 
porridge adhered massively to the bottom of 
the saucepan. 

"I'd sooner be digging the clay from 
morning till night," said Tom Cashen, after 
a long and prayerful imprecation, "than to be 
at this kind of work. There isn't a man in 
the world without getting married but he's 
sure to die quare, and no wonder, from the 
work that's within ! " 

Translated into our inferior English this 
aphorism sets forth the opinion that a 
bachelor who has to do his own household 
work is bound to end his days in a lunatic 
asylum. This view of matrimony had not 
before been heard by me, and it seemed to be 
wholly reasonable. For one thing, the men 
in the yard were always right in our eyes, 
and always full of just complaints against the 
kitchen ; in any case, the Work that was 



144 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

Within — the arduous triflings with saucepans 
and sweeping-brushes — was certainly con- 
temptible as compared with the realities and 
the fascinations of the stable and the hay- 
cart. The point of view of Mrs. Tom Cashen 
was not touched upon ; I think I realised 
that she was not likely to have one. 

She was described at the time of her 
marriage as " fine and fair and freckled, and 
a great warrant to fatten turkeys," and she 
walked two miles every day, with a basket on 
her back, to carry Tom Cashens dinner to 
him — potatoes and boiled eggs, kept hot in a 
clean towel. Later on the dinner was carried 
by two barefooted little boys ; from thence- 
forward, during many years, there was always 
a barefooted little boy or two to carry it, 
whereat the heart of Tom Cashen was glad, 
and so, in a modified degree, was the heart 
of Mrs. Tom Cashen, combating hourly, in a 
swarming cabin, with the Work that was 
Within. 

Some time afterwards, when a spare son 
or two had betaken themselves, weeping 
direfully, to America, it fell to my lot to sit 
by the fire in the Cashen household, and to 
read aloud a letter from one of them, for the 



"IN SICKNESS AND IN HEALTH" 145 

enlightenment of his parents, who were not 
skilled in the finer arts. It was a most 
affectionate letter, inquiring in turn for all 
members of the family, and it enclosed an 
order for two pounds. It concluded as 
follows : 

11 I think, my dear father, I will not see 
you again, because you are very old and you 
will soon die, but when I come home I hope 
to have the pleasure of visiting your grave 
and crying my stomachful over it." 

On receiving these cheering assurances the 
gratification of Tom Cashen was enormous ; 
it was more to him, he said, than the two 
pounds itself, and, in his own words, he 11 had 
to cry a handful." 

There came a day when the words of the 
letter recurred in their extremest force. 
Within sight of the Chapel, spoken of further 
back, stands a ruin, with the ground inside 
and outside of it choked with graves ; mound 
and crooked headstone and battered slab, 
with the briar wreathing them, and the lime- 
stone rock thrusting its strong shoulder up 
between. In the last light of an October 
afternoon I found myself there, in a crowd 
that huddled and swayed round one intense 



146 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

point of interest — a shallow grave, dug with 
difficulty, where was laid in its deal coffin the 
quiet body left behind by the restless spirit 
of Tom Cashen, at the close of a companion- 
ship that had always been interesting and 
generally happy. 

The parish priest was ill, and his substitute 
was late ; the matter was proceeded with in 
a simplicity that was quite without self-con- 
sciousness or embarrassment. Tom Cashen's 
eldest son, grieved, as was well known, to 
his gentle heart's core, had in a newspaper 
earth that had been blessed (by whom I know 
not), and from the newspaper it was shaken 
by him upon the coffin. Holy water was 
poured into the grave from a soda-water 
bottle, and the bottle itself thrown in after it ; 
then followed the shovelling in and stamping 
down, and the tender twilight falling in com- 
passion on the scene. 

The crowd became thin and dispersed, and 
as I walked away meditating on things that 
had passed and things that had endured during 
an absence of many years, a woman kneeling 
by a grave got heavily on to her feet and called 
me by my name. A middle-aged stranger in 
a frilled cap and blue cloak, with handsome 



"IN SICKNESS AND IN HEALTH " 147 

eyes full of friendliness ; that was the first 
impression. Then some wraith of old associa- 
tion began to flit about the worn features, and 
suddenly the bride of twenty-five years ago 
was there beneath the cap frill. Five minutes 
told the story : ill-health, an everlasting pain 
" out through the top of the head," sons and 
daughters in profusion, and baskets of turf 
carried on the back in boggy places. " Him- 
self' was pointed out among the crowd. His 
nose glowed portentously above a rusty grey 
beard, and beneath a hat-brim of a bibulous 
tilt. The introduction was not pressed. 

The sunny Shrove Tuesday in early March 
lived again as she spoke, the glare of sunshine 
upon the bare country brimming with immi- 
nent life, the scent of the furze, already 
muffling its spikes in bloom, the daffodils 
hanging their lamps in the shady places. 
How strangely, how bleakly different was the 
life history summarised in the melancholy 
October evening. Instead of the broad- 
backed horse, galloping on roads that were 
white in the sun and haze of the strong 
March day, with the large frieze-clad waist 
to meet her arms about, and the laughter and 
shouting of the pursuers coming to her ear, 



148 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

there would be a long and miry tramping in 
the darkness, behind her spouse, with talk of 
guano and geese and pigs* food, and a perfect 
foreknowledge of how he would complete, at 
the always convenient shebeen, the glorious 
fabric of intoxication, of which the foundation 
had been well and duly laid at the funeral. 

The possessor of these materials for discon- 
tent was quite unaware of any of them. Her 
husband was as good as other peoples, and 
seldom got drunk, except at funerals, 
weddings and fairs, or on the Holy days of 
the Church, and that was no more than was 
natural. Anything less would be cheerless, 
even uncanny. She introduced her daughter, 
44 the second eldest, and she up to twenty 
years, and she having her passage paid to 
America with all she earned in the lace school." 
The young lady up to twenty years had her 
hair down her back, and wore a long coat 
with huge buttons, and a whole Harvest 
Festival in her hat, from which wisps of 
emerald grass drooped over the fierce fringe 
below it. To be very young, even childish, 
is the aim of her generation. The battle has 
been waged, even to weeping, by the ladies 
of the Big House, with a "tweeny" ol 



"IN SICKNESS AND IN HEALTH" 149 

seventeen, who, on every descent to the 
populous regions of the yard and kitchen, 
plucked the hairpins from her orange mane, 
and allowed it to flow forth in assertion of 
her infant charms. The previous generation, 
superior in this as in many other ways, grows 
old as unaffectedly as animals ; it is a part of 
its deep and unstudied philosophy. 

14 I'm very old now, sure," said the matron 
of twenty-five years' standing, with a comfort- 
able laugh, " I think I must be near forty-five 
years. " 

Had she said sixty it would not have 
seemed much above the mark, and she 
would have said it with equal composure. I 
looked the conventional incredulity, and 
realised that it was thrown away. She, in 
return, assured me that for my part she had 
often read of beauty in a book, but had 
never till now really seen it, that my face 
was made for the ruin of the world, and that 
she'd know me out of my father's family by 
the two eyes and the snout. All was 
accepted with fitting seriousness, and the 
piece of news that had been held back with 
difficulty during these ceremonial obser- 
vances, was at length given the rein. Had 



ISO SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

I not heard of how her sisters daughter, 
down in Drohorna, had that morning 
brought three children into the world, 
daughters, unfortunately, but still a matter 
reflecting much lustre on the parish, and on 
that Providence that had singled it out from 
the Diocese for the honour. 

The conversation abruptly closed, as the 
priest who was to have performed the 
Funeral Office scorched up on his bicycle, 
scarlet-faced, and half an hour late. As if 
the sight of him set the seal of the irrevocable 
upon what had been done, the widow of Tom 
Cashen broke into hoarse wailing ; she was 
arduously consoled and taken away, and her 
husband was left behind in the solitude, he, 
who hated to be alone, and was afraid to pass 
the churchyard at night. 

A discussion raged as to the opening of 
his strong box, the men who stamped down 
the earth on the grave using the action as an 
emphasis to their assertions. At length the 
churchyard emptied, the evening wind was 
raw, and in the gloom the white chapel on 
the hill stared with its gaunt windows, imper- 
vious to the life histories of its own making, 
impossible as an accessory to sentiment. 




'WHAT HAVE YE ON YER NO-ASE? 



11 IN SICKNESS AND IN HEALTH n 151 

Obvious duty has seldom gone more 
suavely hand-in-hand with perfect enjoyment 
than in the attendance of the parish, prac- 
tically en masse, at the lev£e held next day, 
and for many succeeding days, by the 
Triplets. A grey road runs north and south 
past their cabin door, level on the level face 
of the bog for a shelterless half-mile, and 
neither wake nor "Stations" could have 
commanded a more representative gathering 
than went and came upon it in those moist 
autumn afternoons. The gander who lorded 
it over the nibbled strip of grass in front of 
the cabin yard was worn down to amiability 
by a hundred assaults on new comers and an 
equal number of glorious returns to the 
applause of his family ; the half-bred collie, 
coiled under a cart, closed his cunning eyes 
to aggressions that were beyond all barking ; 
a five-year-old boy with tough tight curls 
of amber, and an appallingly dirty face, 
regarded me from the doorstep with brazen 
sang froid as I approached, and said in a loud 
and winding drawl : " What have ye on yer 
no-ase ? " Praise is seldom perfected in the 
mouth of the babe and suckling. I removed 
my pince-nez, and passed with difficulty into 



1 52 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

a doorway filled with people, the blue smoke 
from the interior filling up the crevices. The 
father of the Triplets, a lanky young man, 
in the Sunday clothes in which he had just 
returned from making his application for the 
Kings Bounty, was according an unchanging, 
helpless grin to the shafts of felicitation that 
beset him, the most barbed being screamed 
in Irish by the old women, to the rapture of 
the audience. 

Behind this unequal strife the Triplets 
held their court, in a cradle by the fire, 
canopied with coarse flannel, and rocked 
unceasingly, one would say maddeningly, by 
a female relative with an expression of pomp 
befitting the show- woman. It suggested the 
bellringer who said, "We preached a very 
fine sermon to-day." The wicker walls 
rolled creakily. The rockers were uneven, so 
was the earthen floor beneath them, and each 
oscillation contained three separate jerks. In 
this bewildering world, composed of sallow 
blankets and an unceasing earthquake, the 
three brand new souls reposed as best they 
might ; the show-woman's grimy hand parted 
their firmament of flannel, and revealed three 
minute faces of the pallor of lard, dome-like 



SHE'S THE LIVELIEST OF THEM, GOD BLESS HER! 



"IN SICKNESS AND IN HEALTH n 153 

in forehead, with tiny and precisely similar 
features, wonderfully absorbed in sleep. 
The infant of a day old appeals unfailingly 
to the compassion, but its most impassioned 
adherent must admit that it is out of drawing. 
The light from the open door struck sud- 
denly into the cradle, as some one clove a 
path through the assemblage ; one of the 
absorbed faces worked in vexation, elderly, 
miserable vexation. Tears, too, angry and 
pitiful ; the long slit of opening eyelid was 
full of them, the unseeing disc of dull blue 
within swam in them, the stately bald head 
turned to terra-cotta. 

u She's the liveliest of them, God bless 
her ! " said the show- woman, in high admira- 
tion, " but as for the little one-een next the 
fire, she'll never do a day's good. 'Twasn't 
hardly making day this morning when I had 
a pot of water on the fire for her," 

Being interpreted, this meant that the little 
one-een by the fire had in the cold autumn 
dawn retraced her way so far into the white 
trance of the unknown that all was made 
ready for washing and laying her out. She 
lay like a doll made of pale puckered wax, 
her sleeping lids had a lavender tone, and 



i 54 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

the shadows about her mouth were grey. 
Next morning the cocks had crowed but once 
when the pot of water simmered again over 
the turf fire, and the weak and lonely combat 
with death ended in defeat. 

The life that she was not to share moved 
on about her in leisurely squalor ; the smoke 
from the turf fire strayed languidly up the 
sooty wall, and blundered against the broad 
mouth of the chimney till the rafters were 
lost in the blue and settled obscurity. The 
walls were yellow with smoke ; it was easy 
to imagine its flavour in the bowl of milk 
that stood on the dresser, ready for the in- 
valid in the inner room. Obscure corners 
harboured obscure masses that might be 
family raiment, or beds, or old women ; some- 
where among them the jubilant cry of a hen 
proclaimed the feat of laying an egg, in 
muffled tones that suggested a lurking-place 
under a bed. Between the cradle and the 
fire sat an old man in a prehistoric tall hat, 
motionless in the stupor of his great age ; at 
his feet a boy wrangled with a woolly puppy 
that rolled its eyes till the blue whites showed, 
in a delicious glance of humour, as it tugged 
at the red flannel shirt of its playmate. 



"IN SICKNESS AND IN HEALTH M 155 

" God save all here," said a voice, very 
dictatorially, at the door ; a black-haired old 
woman shoved her way to the cradle, and 
parted the blankets with a professional air. 
She was a Wise Woman from the mountain, 
and foreknowing the moment when she 
would spit, for luck, in the faces of the help- 
less trio in the cradle, I jostled my way to 
the bedroom of their mother. It had an 
almost conventual calm. Moderate as was 
the light that struggled through a hermeti- 
cally sealed window of eighteen inches by 
twelve, it was further baffled by an apron 
pinned across the panes ; the air was heavy, 
reinforced only by the draughts and the 
smoke that entered hand-in-hand from the 
kitchen. 

In one of two great beds the invalid lay in 
the twilight, with her hand pressed to her 
head. She was collected, well-bred, and con- 
cerned for the welfare of the visitor, and of 
all the visitor's relations, mentioned in due 
order of seniority. The glory of her position 
burned in two spots of excitement on her 
high cheek bones, but it could not eliminate 
her good manners. Her sister loudly recited 
the facts that she was using no food, only 



156 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

sups of milk and water, that as for puddings 
or any little rarities, if you ran down gold in 
a cup she wouldn't let it to her lips. 

"There's nothing in the world wide I 
could fancy," said the sick girl, feebly, 11 unless 
it'd be the lick of a fish's tail." 

The entry of the Wise Woman, with a 
stentorian benediction, here drove me forth 
like a bolted rabbit, and having skirted the 
evil-smelling morass in front of the house, I 
breathed the large air of the bogs with 
enthusiasm. The evening was speechless 
and oppressive ; it held like a headache the 
question whether it is useful to be sorry for 
those who are not sorry for themselves, and, 
unrepining, grope out their lives in the dark 
house of ignorance ; and whether discontent 
with one's lot is not the mother of good cook- 
ing and other excellent things. 

A week afterwards an emissary brought to 
the Big House the intelligence that the 
mother of the Triplets had iji the interval 
been at the point of death, and had been 
anointed, had an impression on her chest, 
and could give " no account of the pain she 
had in her side, only that it was like a person 
polishing a boot, and there to be lumps in 



"IN SICKNESS AND IN HEALTH" 157 

the boot, and he having a brush in his hand." 
From out of these symptoms was distilled the 
fact that she had had pleurisy, acquired while 
walking barefoot in the yard to feed the 
calves. She entreated the gift of a pair of 
boots, and the emissary added, as a rider, 
the fact that the Colonels boots would be 
just her fit. The Colonel was away, but the 
main body of his boots stood in battalions in 
his room. A pair of the dustiest was snatched, 
in a heat of philanthropy, and bestowed, and 
proved, we were given to understand, an 
invaluable adjunct to the feeding of the calves. 
It is worth mentioning that the Colonel, on 
his return next day, was by no means as 
gratified as had been hoped ; they were, he 
said, the one and only pair of patent leather 
boots in which he could walk with comfort 
and credit in London, and the moving cir- 
cumstance of Triplets had no power to allay 
his bitter and impotent wrath. His only tall 
hat had already been sold at a Jumble sale, 
and he did well to be angry. The cook, who 
had been sceptical throughout as to the 
necessity for the gift, tactfully reported that 
the Colonel's boots were too tight for That 
One, and brought from Second Mass the 



158 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

comfortable tidings that they had preyed on 
her feet. 

The cook, always lenient, after the manner 
of her kind, to the Colonel and all his sex, 
was at that time much preoccupied with 
matrimonial affairs. It was soon afterwards 
that a strange young man in Sunday clothes 
appeared at intervals in the yard, and melted 
like a wraith into dark doorways in the 
kitchen passages. He was found eating trifle 
in the servants' hall, and in the evenings he 
fished on the lake. He was, we discovered, 
the cooks brother, arrived from Loughrea to 
investigate the position of the swain whom 
the cook wished to marry. On the fourth 
day he passed imperceptibly out of the 
establishment, and the cook fought loudly 
and venomously with all who crossed her 
path. It transpired that the brother had 
visited the home of the aspirant, and had 
found, she said, that it was a backwards 
place, and a narrow house, and he wouldn't 
let her go in it. She had twice at Mass 
seen the candidate for her hand, she informed 
us, lamentably, and he was a nice young man, 
foxy in the face, and she got a good account 
of him. That it was remarkable, or at all 



"IN SICKNESS AND IN HEALTH " 159 

unpleasant, to marry a perfect stranger was a 
point quite outside her comprehension. She 
had never spoken to him, she admitted, but 
what signified, so long as she got a good 
account of him. It was afterwards discovered 
that the lover had been rejected because his 
family had been broom-makers, and that no 
self-respecting girl would look at him on that 
account. The point of social etiquette here 
touched remains still dark, but it was insuper- 
able, and the cook eventually married the 
gentleman whose lofty calling it was to drive 
the butcher's cart. 

The day before the marriage the battle 
was waged in the usual manner between 
the Loughrea brother and the bridegroom ; 
greasy pound notes were slapped down on 
the table, the bride's savings were vaunted 
above the bridegroom's heifers and position 
as heir to his mother's bit of land, and with 
swaggering and bluff and whiskey drinking 
the bargain was concluded. Nothing could 
have been more frankly commercial ; nothing, 
apparently, could have given more satis- 
faction. The cook departed, and lived in a 
cabin with a variety of her husband's relatives, 
who were by no means overjoyed at the 



i6o SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

circumstance; potatoes for dinner, and stewed 
tea morning, noon and night were her diet ; 
the hens roosted above her bed, she weeded 
turnips and " spread " turf, she grew thin 
and pale, but never, so far as is known, did 
she repine, or regret the print dresses and 
the flesh-pots. The butchers driver was 
u a quiet boy," better than most husbands; 
had it been the broom-maker, foxy in the 
face she would have made him an equally 
good wife. In a community where old 
maids are almost unknown, the only point 
worth considering was that she was married 
and had a " young son," and every man and 
woman in the country would have said that 
she was right. In traversing the point we 
should run our heads against a wall of 
primeval instinct. 

Writers of novels, and readers of novels, 
had better shut their eyes to the fact, the 
inexorable fact, that such marriages are 
rushed into every day — loveless, sordid 
marriages, such as we are taught to hold in 
abhorrence, and that from them springs, like 
a flower from a dust heap, the unsullied, 
uneventful home-life of Western Ireland. It- 
is romance that holds the two-edged sword, 



"IN SICKNESS AND IN HEALTH" 161 

the sharp ecstasy and the severing scythe 
stroke, the expectancy and the disillusioning, 
the trance and the clearer vision. 

It is even more than passive domestic 
toleration that blossoms in the cramped and 
dirty cabin life, affection grows with years, 
and where personal attraction never counted 
for much, the loss of it hurts nobody. 

"Their hearts were within in each other," 
was said of an elderly couple, who, thirty 
years before, had been married in the priests 
kitchen on the last night of Shraft ; married 
as a happy thought, and by the merest 
chance. The lawful bride had taken her 
place by the bridegroom, but, changing her 
mind at the last possible moment, sprang 
from her knees, and declined the ceremony. 
As her betrothal was probably an affair of 
that afternoon it was not so dramatic an 
action as might be assumed, nor did it cause 
any hitch in the proceedings. The priest 
looked round the well-filled kitchen. 

"Here, Mary Kate!" he said to his 
servant, " come on you, and marry the man ! 
Sure you wouldn't let him go away, and he 
after walking five miles in the rain ! M 

Mary Kate knelt down by the bridegroom. 



1 62 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 



We do not hear of remonstrance on her part, 
and thirty years afterwards, when their 
children were married or gone to America, it 
was said that this couple's u hearts were 
within in each other." It was said with 
perfect perception of the ways and the deeps 
of devotion ; but the absence of it at their 
wedding was not worthy of remark, and in 
these things is the essence of the Irish nature, 
that keenly perceives sentiment, and con- 
tentedly ignores it. 

" She isn't much, indeed/' said a farmer of 
exceeding astuteness, when questioned about 
his matrimonial intentions, " but she's a nate 
little clerk." By this was delicately conveyed 
the fact that she could read and write, and 
that he could not. The marriage was highly 
successful. 

Years afterwards a friend said to him in 
congratulation, c< Well, James, I hear you 
married your daughter well." 

" I did, sir, and I got him cheap." Then 
in a whisper, " He was divilish owld." 

The computation by which the years of 
the bridegroom were set against the purchase 
money — in other words, the bride's dowry — 
must have been an intricate one, involving, 



"IN SICKNESS AND IN HEALTH n 163 

one would say, the tables of insurance, and 
the best skill of the nate little clerk. 

Congratulations, not unmixed with some 
genial surprise, were proffered to another 
parent on the marriage of his daughter, a 
person by no means in her first youth, and 
possessed of but one eye. 

11 Sure I had to give him ten pounds agin' 
the blind eye," explained the father of the 
bride, with unimpaired cordiality. 

There is here no material, of the accepted 
sort, for a playwright ; no unsatisfied yearnings 
and shattered ideals, nothing but remarkable 
common sense, and a profound awe for the 
Sacrament of Marriage. Marriage, humour- 
ous, commercial, and quite unlovely, is the 
first act ; the second is mere preoccupation 
with an accomplished destiny ; the last is 
usually twilight and much faithfulness. The 
dialogue is a masterpiece throughout, 
epigram, heart-piercing pathos, with humour, 
heavenly and inveterate, lubricating all, 
Perhaps the clue to success lies here, in the 
mutual possession of agreeability and the 
good nature that goes with the best agree- 
ability ; certain it is that with a command of 
repartee that makes fighting an artistic 



1 64 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

r enjoyment, their conjugal battles are insig- 
nificant. 

The two-fold heart of the race beats 
everywhere in the confusion ; gross worldli- 
ness, and a matrimonial standard clear and 
unquestioned as the stars ; Love the negli- 
gible quantity, and attachment the rule. It is 
for us, more singly bent on happiness, to 
aim at rapture and to foreknow dis- 
appointment. 



HORTICULTURAL 



HORTICULTURAL 

I admit that I hesitate at the thought of 
pressing into the elect company of those who 
have discoursed upon gardens. From Lord 
Bacon down to the Poet Laureate, from the 
Poet Laureate up to that self-sufficing and 
yet voluble " Elizabeth, " of whose German 
Garden all the craft have read, there seems 
no inch of garden sod that has been left un- 
turned. I ask myself : Have I any original 
suggestions on, for example, The disbudding 
of 'Mums ? (a term of horrid familiarity that 
I have seen applied to Chrysanthemums). 
Any high thoughts on Manures ? Any 
special convictions in the matter of 
mulches ? 

My conscience, far from admitting ability 
to treat of these solemn things, reminds me 



i68 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

that but little more than a year ago I should 
scarcely have been entrusted with the weeding 
of a gravel path, and hints at that Affair of 
the Coltsfoot. It is, in fact, the Coltsfoot 
Affair that decides me. I cannot be a guide 
or a sign-post, but I can be a scarecrow. 
I would say a moral scarecrow, though it 
may be conceded that the costume of the 
gardening amateur often lends itself to the 
more practical role. 

I was not at all aware of being in the 
movement when I found myself snatching at 
my weekly copy of Gardening Illustrated in 
preference to the daily paper, and brooding 
heavily upon delphiniums when I might have 
been profiting by the sermon. It was only 
by degrees, as I went about the world, that I 
noted how quick and strong would beat the 
answering conversational pulse at the 
mention of a garden, at the sighing reference 
to the arrangement of a herbaceous border. 
It seemed that every second person I met 
was as much of a gardener as I was, in the 
matter of enthusiasm, and, as they might 
easily be, something more in the matter of 
practice. This discovery revolutionised 
society for me. It has doubtless done so 



HORTICULTURAL 169 

for many another. The most penal after- 
noon visit may have its alleviations in a 
valuable hint on 11 the desire of the rose" — 
not for the star — but for the cleanings of the 
scullery drain ; the most inveterate dowager 
may be found to be a man and a brother, 
profoundly versed in daffodils, full of lore 
about " Alpines. " How astonishing it is to 
find oneself cheerfully, even ardently, assent- 
ing to what would once have been regarded 
as the hideous proposal to M Walk round the 
garden ! M Such a walk has ceased to be 
a penance ; it has become something, not 
quite a scouting expedition, not quite a 
(herbaceous) border-foray, not quite a 
" beggar's lay " ; but it has something in it 
of the charms of all three. Which element 
preponderates depends on the character. 
There are moss-troopers born, who will 
twitch off a cutting, and filch a seed head, 
uncontrollably. There are heaven-endowed 
mendicants who will yearn and flatter the 
filling of a flower bed into a knotted pocket 
handkerchief. It is a useful principle to 
accept everything, regardless of the accident 
of the seasons. There are many other 
accidents of far higher importance to be 



tjo SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

considered — lapse of memory on the part of 
the giver, for instance, or repentance. In the 
amenities of gardeners, as in love, the advice 
to "Take me when I'm in the humour," is 
sound, and a cutting in the hand is well 
worth six in or on the bush, when the bush is 
another's. 

I believe it is the gambling element that 
gives to gardening so potent a charm — that, 
and the seedmens catalogues. One of my 
first adventures was in response to a singu- 
larly seductive advertisement — " Humulus 
Lupulus," it said, " The finest creeper in the 
world. Grows forty feet in a single night. 
Massive clusters of yellowish blossoms. 
Beautiful; Healthy." I have the consti- 
tutional misfortune to believe, unquestioning, 
the printed word. Even now I find it hard 
to discount the flights of fancy of that poetic 
idealist, the advertising nurseryman. I 
despatched eighteenpence by the next post ; 
received by return an undemonstrative 
bundle of little roots, planted them prayer- 
fully in a choice place, and then, as it 
happened, left home for a time. On my 
return to my garden I found the usual 
crop of catastrophes and compensations, but 



HORTICULTURAL 171 

disregarding all alike I sped to the site of 
the Humulus Lupulus. There had been 
near the same spot a highly esteemed rose, 
M Climbing Captain Christie." The first 
thing that greeted me was the wan, indignant 
face of a Captain Christie, who, having 
climbed for all he was worth, was none the 
less overtaken, and was now gazing at me in 
strangled pallor from the depths of a thicket 
of common hops. The Poetic Idealist had 
triumphed. 

I have never been able precisely to 
ascertain to what extent Bat Whoolley found 
me out in the Affair — already alluded to — of 
the Coltsfoot. Bat is my gardener, and I 
value his opinion highly, almost as highly as 
he does himself, though possibly with more 
limitations. Winter Heliotrope was what 
my neighbour called Coltsfoot. I felt there 
was something not quite sound in the lavish 
way she pressed it upon me. She said there 
was nothing like it for covering bare places, 
and that I might dig it up for myself and 
take all I wanted. That specious permission 
might have warned me ; so also mi^ht the 
singular fact that my neighbour's shrubbery 
had for undergrowth naught save the curving 



IT 2 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

leaves of the winter heliotrope. None the 
less, I planted out two or three colonies of it 
on the outskirts of the rock garden. 

One morning, at the turn by the pine tree 
(one of my colonies had been unostentatiously 
planted in a bare place behind the pine tree), 
I met Bat. His face was redder than usual, 
and there was something very searching in 
his eye. Mine did not meet it. 

u Look at that ! " he said. 

He held up a handful of long white roots, 
and brandished it, much as Jupiter is repre- 
sented brandishing a handful of lightning. 
" Look at that dam-root" — he pronounced 
the words as one pronounces beet-root — 
"that some" — here a powerful variant on 
the usual definition of fool — " is after plant- 
ing in your honour's consarns ! See here ! 
If ye left no more o' that in the ground than 
as much as ye couldn't see itself, it'd have 
the place ate up in one fortnight ! I gave 
the morning to it, an' if I give the day itself 
it's hardly I'll have it all dug — Divil's cure to 
the — " (Here more variants in connection 
with the imposter.) 

Something wavering in Bat's eye, even 
while the denunciation proceeded, made me 



HORTICULTURAL 173 

conscious of the smirch of suspicion. I 
remained silent as the grave. Secretly I 
visited the other colonies, and found that one 
of them was already swinging an enveloping 
wing- round the rearguard of the Iris 

o o 

Kaempferi, and that another had flung out- 
posts into the heart of the helianthemums. 
At a bound I ranged myself with the opposi- 
tion. 

"Bat," I said, " the Dam-roots are in the 
garden ! M 

That night a fair-sized bundle of winter 
heliotrope was restored to my generous 
neighbour. Bat threw it over the wall. 

I am slowly acquiring some insight into 
my gardener's likes and dislikes. He 
despises anything that he suspects of being a 
wild flower. 

" 'Sha ! that's no good ! That's one of the 
Heth family! The hills is rotten with it." 

But on the other hand, he will lavish such 
a wealth of attention upon potatoes as would, 
if bestowed on the despised daughter of 
Heth, cause it to blossom like the rose. 
There are, in his opinion, but three flowers 
really worthy of cultivation. Red geraniums, 
blue lobelias, and yellow calceolarias. With 



174 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

these, had he his will, should all my garden 
be glorious. I never buy them ; I never see 
them in their earlier stages, but suddenly, in 
the herbaceous border, the trio will appear, 
uttering a note of colour only comparable to 
the shriek of a macaw, 

" Why then, there isn't a gentleman's 
garden in Ireland but thim have the sway in 
it!" Bat says, when he finds me brooding 
over a shattered ideal. " There was Mr. 
Massy's was the grand place ! The garden 
steps big slobs of marble, and the gate 
lodges dashed and haberdashed, and the 
gardens fit to blind yer eye by the dint o' 
thim ! " 

What u haberdashed " may mean I cannot 
say, but " thim " meant the combination so 
dear to his heart that a stouter than mine 
would be needed to abolish it, even from a 
herbaceous border. 

Sometimes, chiefly on Sunday afternoons, 
I am visited by compunction in the matter 
of the prohibited " calcies " and <c lobaylias," 
for it is on Sundays that Bat is "at home " 
to three favoured enemies of his own profes- 
sion. They move, very slowly, and, for the 
most part, silently, from bed to bed, like 



HORTICULTURAL 175 

doctors making a clinical inspection at a 
hospital ; at intervals they put a horny finger 
under a patients chin and gravely study his 
complexion, or, wishing perhaps to show 
generosity to a rival, they pick off some 
malign bug or caterpillar, and squash it 
between an unhesitating finger and thumb. 
It is at such times that I feel how far my 
garden in its lack of that gorgeous trio lags 
behind that of any other gentleman in 
Ireland. 

But my gardener has his alleviations. 
There was one bright day which, having 
begun with the funeral of a relative, culmin- 
ated in a visit as prolonged as it was satiating 
from the chief mourner. King Solomon did 
not exploit his Temple more thoroughly for 
the discomfiture of the Queen of Sheba than 
did Bat his gardens for the Chief Mourner. 
The latter, a " mountainy man from back in 
the counthry," paced heavily round after Mr. 
Whoolly, his hands folded on the apex of his 
back under the voluminous skirts of his blue 
frieze coat, a stick hanging from them like a 
tail. The deep silence of his native hills was 
on him ; he suffered his emotions without ex- 
pression until the tour of the kitchen garden 



176 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

was made, its climax — fortunately stage- 
managed by Bat — being " a bed of greens." 
There is that in such a bed that, in such a 
nature, touches an even more vibrating chord 
than potatoes. 

" And cabbages ! " said the mountainy man, 
almost in a whisper. 

The Queen of Sheba herself was not a 
more gratifying audience. Mr. Whoolley 
seems to have observed the parallelism of the 
cases, and assuming that the visitor, in spite 
of the funeral, had no more spirit left in him, 
the couple adjourned to a convenient public 
house and were no more seen. 

On the whole, I think I may say that I 
give Bat satisfaction. He is generous in 
judging rather by intention than achievement, 
and he sees the advantages of fostering a 
disposition to weed. Only once has he been 
tried too high, and that was when I planted 
out a bed with what he calls " pushocl>bui, M 
a most pestilent weed whose English equiva- 
lent is, I fancy, charlock. To me he passed 
over the error in a very handsome manner, 
but I heard him the same afternoon say to 
' the subordinate who was making good my 
misdoing : 




1 AND CABBAGES!" SAID THE MOUNTAINY MAN 



HORTICULTURAL 177 

" Is it that one ! Sure he's no more good 
than a feather ! " 

Another act of folly of mine, however, 
carried with it more serious consequences. 

I was so far left to myself as to give permission 
to a Sunday School excursion of unknown 
dimensions to disport itself in my domains. 
Dates were discussed, and times arranged, and 
then a sponge of kindly oblivion wiped the 
affair from my mind. It was a couple of 
months afterwards — I was inspecting my wall 
fruit in the kitchen garden at eleven o'clock 
in the morning, and being eaten by midges in 
a way that foretold immediate rain, when 
there was a sound of thunderous driving on the 
avenue. Just then the rain began to fall, and 
almost at the same moment there arrived to 
me a rushing messenger from the house saying 

II there were ladies in the drawing-room." 

I am a lone man, and there is no one to 
share with me the brunt of such a moment. 
I hurried in, and was confronted as I neared 
the hall door by four huge yellow brakes, full 
of children, and roofed with umbrellas. Two, 
already empty, were emulously pressing 
towards the yard, one taking a short cut 
across a strip of lawn, and two more were 

M 



178 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

disgorging their burdens at large. I went 
into the drawing-room and found it lined 
with ladies in black. It was explained to me 
that on account of the rain the party, which 
comprised the Patrons, Teachers, and Pupils 
of four Sunday Schools, had " taken the 
liberty of coming to the house for shelter." 
Even as they spoke a strange murmuring 
sound arose from beneath my feet — the hum 
as of an angry hive. The house, like many 
old country houses in Ireland, stands upon a 
basement storey, and I realised that its 
cavernous recesses were being utilised as a 
receptacle for the Amalgamated Sunday 
Schools. 

I cannot clearly recall the varied events of 
that day of nightmare. I remember finding, 
at one juncture, one of my subordinates 
stemming the rush of the Sunday Schools up 
the back-stairs with the kitchen table and 
an old driving whip. At another, my 
honoured presence was requested in a cave- 
like place, once a laundry, wherein a shocking 
meal was being partaken of. I noticed a 
teacher with a " cut " of cold salmon, wrapped 
in newspaper. She ate it with her fingers, 
quaffing raspberry vinegar the while. Kettles, 



HORTICULTURAL 179 

capacious as the boiler of a man-of-war, 
steamed on the ancient fireplace ; the air 
reeked of damp children and buns. Later 
on it cleared, and I led a company of female 
patrons forth to see the garden. Already the 
sward of the tennis ground looked like 
Epsom Downs on the day after the Derby, 
and an animated game of Hide-and-Seek 
was in progress among my young rhododen- 
drons. I averted my eyes. In the flower 
garden the usual amusement of leaping the 
beds had taken place, with the usual results 
of chasm-like footprints in the centre of each. 
The first endurable incident of the day was 
the discovery that Bat had locked the kitchen 
garden gate, and that my strollings with the 
patronesses were perforce ended. But even 
as I was expressing my regrets (coupled, 
mentally, with a resolve to raise Mr. Whoolly's 
wages) there arose from within the walls 
cries of the most poignant, accompanied by 
roars comparable only to those of a wounded 
tiger. On the top of the wall, just above us 
there shot into view the face of a boy, a face 
scarlet with exertion, vociferous in lamenta- 
tion. Quickly following it there appeared 
down the length of the wall other faces, 



i8o SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

equally agitated, while from within came a 
sound as of the heavy beating of carpets. 
Other sounds came also. Sounds of indigna- 
tion too explicit to be printable. I blushed 
for the patronesses. None the less I endorsed 
every word of it as I realised that my best 
peach trees were being used as ladders by 
the Amalgamated Sunday Schools. 

I think that was about the last act in the 
tragedy. Not long afterwards, in a yellow 
glow of late, repentant sunlight, the four 
brakes drove — with further cuttings of grassy 
corners — up to the hall door. The Sunday 
Schools were condensed into them, each 
child receiving an orange as it took its seat, 
and thin cheers arose in my honour. Simul- 
taneously the brakes snowed forth orange 
peel upon the gravel ; the procession swept 
out of sight, still cheering, still snowing 
orange peel. 

For reasons darkly and inextricably mixed 
up with the Sunday School excursion, dinner 
that night was served at nine o'clock, and as I 
was aware that every servant in the house was 
in a separate and towering passion, I refrained 
from inquiry. 

Yet, even through the indigestion following 



HORTICULTURAL i3i 

on this belated repast, I was upheld by the 
remembrance of Bats face, as he glared at 
me through the bars of the kitchen garden 
gate, and said : 

" Thanks be to God, I'm after breaking 
six pay-sticks on their backs ! " 



OUT OF HAND 



OUT OF HAND 



Soldiers were there to keep the peace. The 
redcoats and the bayonets moved in a rigid 
line through the crowd that blocked the two 
streets of the town. They guarded a small 
body of voters that had come across Lough 
Corrib, and was making its way to the 
polling-booths, headed by a Galway landlord, 
on whose arm leaned an old man, decrepit, 
and unnerved by the storm of opposition 
through which they passed. 

Another Galway landlord was ranging 
through groups of men who turned their 
backs on him, and hid behind each other, 
his tenants, personal friends all of them, who, 
for the first time on record, had voted in 
opposition to his wishes. 

" Every one of them ! " he said, while the 
atmosphere that surrounds suffering and 



186 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

strong emotion made itself felt, "all but two 
or three. They have all gone against 
me. i 

It was a memorable election, marking the 
new departure in Irish politics, and it broke 
the hearts and practically ended the lives of 
two at least of the Galway landlords. Till 
that time the landlords took their tenants to 
the poll en masse ; thenceforward they were 
to advance under the banner of the Church. 

The epoch that here found its close was 
memorable, too, in its way. It held, far back 
in it, the brave days when the Galway 
elections lasted for a month, and the actual 
voting for a week, days to which the pages 
of Lever bear witness. As that week of 
delightful warfare strove on the electors 
became more fastidious about their drinks, 
and would accept nothing less aristocratic 
than mulled port and claret. These restora- 
tives were brewed in fish-kettles on the big 
fireplaces of the ballroom in Kilroys hotel, 
an agreeable incident, not, we think, com- 
memorated by Lever. 

• • • • • 

Twenty years afterwards a Galway village 
lay mute in the sunshine, drowsy with 



OUT OF HAND 187 

respectability, assertive of rectitude in every 
slant of its slate roofs. To view it thus from 
the waste altitudes of the moor above it, on a 
Sunday morning of July, with the call of a 
cock straining up through the silence, was to 
endue it with all the stillness and strictness 
of the day itself, even to credit it with a 
Presbyterian rigour of Sabbaticism that was 
at variance with the traditions of the County 
Galway. Down on its own level, and 
approaching it through the aisle of shade 
that lay between broken demesne walls and 
under the lofty embrace of demesne trees, 
the glare of its whitewash closed the vista 
blatantly, and with a self-righteousness that 
suppressed the romantic as a thing of 
libertine irrelevance. Therefore, to an eye 
accustomed, during many Sundays, to the 
recognition of the barren street, with its 
strings of ducks in moody reverie about the 
unremunerative gutters, and its dogs asleep 
outside the closed doors, it was startling 
beyond the merit of the occasion to be con- 
fronted with a staring crowd of people that 
filled the street loosely from end to end. 
Every face was turned towards the new- 
comer, till the whole slope of the hill was 



188 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

flushed with them ; then it darkened, as the 
people realised that nothing worthy of further 
notice was occurring, and turned their heads 
again towards Galway. 

The crowd was a representative one. 
Wizened old men in swallow-tailed coats and 
knee-breeches, degenerate youth in check 
suits and pot-hats, tanned women in deep- 
hooded cloaks, girls with shawls over their 
heads, freckled and ubiquitous children — all 
smelling heavily of turf smoke, some 
modernised with the master smell of hair-oil. 
The anti-Parnellite candidate was expected 
to arrive at any moment from Galway, to 
address those who had come to the village 
for Mass ; and though the people had now 
been out of chapel for an hour there seemed 
to be no wish to disperse, or any sign of 
impatience. They even appeared to be 
enjoying themselves as thoroughly as was 
compatible with the fact that the public- 
houses had not yet been opened. Anything 
so fascinating as a little political excitement 
was worth waiting for, especially while 
Providence was liberal of fresh arrivals on 
outside cars, and invention failed not of the 
personal allusion wherewith to greet them ; 



OUT OF HAND 189 

so that time passed healthfully, and expecta- 
tion was no more than pleasantly ripe when 
outposts on the hill heralded at length the 
approach of the candidate, 

A blended roar of execration and en- 
couragement went out to meet him — a 
greeting sustained on every note of the 
human compass in a savagely inarticulate 
mass of discord. He seemed to cleave his 
way through it as he passed, his figure 
moving pompously along on its car above the 
shoulders of the people, in black coat and 
white waistcoat, while a deft hand manipu- 
lated a tall hat in recognition of every crumb 
of welcome. He passed on down a by-road 
towards the chapel, followed by a few dozen 
people, and by the booing and hooting of the 
rest of the assemblage. Clearly the materials 
for the meeting were elsewhere. 

It was not far to the chapel, four hundred 
yards or thereabouts of dusty road, that lay 
hot and quiet between loose stone walls, 
dropping to a hollow and rising again to the 
low height where stood the unmistakable 
building that is the heart and fountain of 
parish politics, its plaster and whitewash 
veiled a little by the kindly churchyard trees, 



i go SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

and the stone cross on its gable standing 
strong and keen under the melting sky. 

On nearing the churchyard the candidate's 
voice was audible through the trees in fluent, 
opening sentences, each point duly weighted 
with a " Hee'rr, hee'rr ! " as businesslike as 
the " Amen" of the parish clerk. His car 
was waiting outside in the shade, and the 
carman, who was perhaps a little blast in the 
matter of speeches, was smoking an un- 
emotional pipe beside it. 

" Indeed, you may say the town of Galway 
is in a quare way," he said, putting his hand 
to a cheek that was just perceptibly more 
purple than the other. " Look at meself, the 
figure I am, that wasn't spakin' a word to a 
Chris thian, good nor bad, and lasht night a 
fishwoman comes down to me in the sthreet 
this ways M — squaring his elbows and strutting 
— " 1 Hi for Lynch ! ' says she, hittin' me a 
puck in the jaw with her skib (basket). The 
Lord save us ! 'tis hardly I ran from her before 
she had the town gethered afther her. Begob, 
the women's the most that'd frighten ye ! " 

At the churchyard gate a couple of long- 
tailed colts were tied up, saddle-horses evi- 
dently, but bare-backed, and bridled with a 



OUT OF HAND 19 1 

halter, their bodies bloated with summer 
grass out of all proportion to their long legs, 
and their countrified ears pricking occasionally 
at the cheers that did not by the blink of an 
eyelid affect the doze of the Galway car-horse. 
The company inside was a small one as com- 
pared with that in the street, and had in it a 
much larger proportion of women and old 
men, to which was perhaps due the superior 
calm of the proceedings. The churchyard 
was a spacious one, depressingly roomy indeed 
for the present occasion, for which any 
suburban back garden would have sufficed. 
Most of the audience had mounted on the 
tombstones, great slabs of limestone that 
formed the lids of the boxes placed over the 
more distinguished dead, blackish grey, and 
ringing under the hobnailed-boots like metal. 
The candidate stood on the highest tomb- 
stone, and all around him leaned and clung 
these strange groups of men and women, 
looking like the wooded islands in the lake 
close by ; while between them the quiet back- 
ground of the graveyard was visible, with its 
bent and musing trees, and array of low 
head-stones gazing blindly at the concourse. 
The bald top of the candidates head 



1 92 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

formed the focus-point of the gathering, 
giving back the sun's glare like glass as it 
swung and jerked with the flow of oratory, 
and beside it the immense shovel-hat of the 
old priest moved occasionally in accord, 
italicising for the benefit of the flock such 
phrases as seemed especially edifying. The 
curate was nowhere to be seen ; rumour said 
that his poetical theories were not formed on 
those of his superior. A remembrance 
recurred of meeting, that morning, a severely 
contemplative young priest, walking alone 
and away from the village, with the green 
flicker of the leaves overhead playing 
strangely across the gloom of his sallow 
face. 

The candidates speech seemed, indeed, to 
require a little driving home. It was, for the 
most part, an explanation to his constituents 
of the reasons that made it necessary for him 
to forego the happiness of acquainting him- 
self with them in any intimate degree. He 
was, he said, in his temperately florid manner, 
closely connected with a large firm in England 
and, deplorable to relate, his income depended 
on his living in the bosom of the English 
firm. u Sure we know that — we know that !" 




THE CANDIDATE 



OUT OF HAND 193 

yelled the half-dozen most chosen supporters, 
crushing precariously round the candidate on 
the edge of the tombstone platform, with 
their wild, combative faces pressing, all on 
fire, towards him. Perhaps he might yet be 
roused to say the right things about the rival 
candidate, the things that would wring forth 
a cheer in reply to those distant ones that 
came maddeningly at intervals from the 
crowd in the street. 

But the speaker kept his eloquence well in 
hand, confining himself to such blind alleys 
of assertion as the remarkable success of his 
own career, his confidence that his con- 
stituents would re-elect him, and his desire 
to benefit them in some immeasurable way if 
they did so. A permissive cynicism curved 
the wrinkles on the faces of the old men who 
stood on the grassy graves behind him, with 
their hands under their coat-tails, and their 
grizzled chins sunk in their shirt-collars ; they 
knew how they were going to vote, and their 
own powers (matured in the sale of many a 
heifer and rood of bog) of taking a part and 
sustaining it, with a perfectness that would 
deceive the elect, made them sceptical as to 
the ends of speech-making. The women 



i 9 4 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

were tittering and whispering under their 
shawls ; but were certainly impressed by the 
candidate's Sunday attire, his well-kept grey 
moustache, and his affable way of saying 
" ladies and gentlemen " every now and 
then. 

The speech ambled to its close, through a 
peroration of an uncertain conversational 
tone, assisted at critical points by one or 
other of the supporters, who would un- 
governably supply the needed word out of 
the bursting fulness of his own repertoire. 
It was the sole outlet fry their enthusiasm, 
except for the cheer that caught at the 
ravelled edge of the final sentence, as the 
candidate put on his hat and bowed himself 
from the tombstone. 

" Be pray in for the meeting gerrls," said 
the old priest, leading the way to the vestry, 
with rusty skirts floating widely. The door 
closed on him and his protege, the clumps on 
the tombstones fell apart, mingling in a 
laughing and talking stream towards the 
churchyard gate, and the prayers of the 
young ladies were apparently deferred to a 
more convenient season. 

The chapel door stood open, showing the 




'A MAN MUST WOTE THE WAY HIS PRIEST AND 
BISHOPLL TELL HIM" 



OUT OF HAND 195 

barren squareness of the interior ; a zinc tub, 
half-full of Holy-water, stood in the porch, 
with the flags all round it wet from the splash 
of dipping hands ; the altar gleamed gaudily at 
the further end ; and a tall confession-box 
stood solitary in the seatless expanse of floor, 
fraught with the inseparable mystery and 
suggestiveness of its kind, and holding 
within its curtained rails the knowledge of 
what things are counted for unrighteousness 
in that twilight place, the conscience of the 
Western peasant. The air inside was warm, 
and still laden with the smell of frieze coats 
and stale turf smoke ; but, except for this 
furnishing, the blankness was complete. 
Sunday and its Mass were over and done 
with for a week, and priest and congregation 
were striving factors in the carnal toils of 
election. 

The people dispersed slowly, discussing 
the absorbing topic of the day, some in their 
native tongue, but for the most part in 
English, so pronounced as to be in the 
distance scarcely distinguishable from the 
liquid and guttural flow of Gal way Irish. 

1 1 Sure, a man must wote the way his 
priest and bishop'll tell him/' says a tall 



196 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

supporter, with the air of a person repeating 
a truism. 

11 Well, meself 'd say," says another, whose 
handsome eyes shone in the shadow of his 
soft felt hat, while his hands helped out his 
words with picturesque gesture, " the man I'd 
have a wish for to wote for him, is the man 
that cl rise out o' his bed in the night and give 
hay and oats to yer horse, and yerself fotever 
ye'd ax, when any one else'd leshen (listen) in 
their bed if ye were battherin* there till 
mornin\" 

This argument referred to the well-known 
good nature of the Parnellite candidate, a 
general dealer and publican in a neighbouring 
village. 

" Well, indeed, he's no scholar, I suppose/ 1 
says a young fellow, still in reference to the 
Parnellite. " He has no learnin' nor way of 
spakin' no more than meself, but becripes ! 
he's a fine sthrong man, and he'll be well able 
to fight and box in Parliament." 

This was said in entire good faith, and was 
listened to with respect. 

4 'Come on back the road!" bawls a 
supporter, beckoning authoritatively from the 
distance, "let yees come on now, the whole 



OUT OF HAND 197 

o' yee, the way we'd be before the car and it 
going up ! M 

The reason for this manoeuvre was pre- 
sently apparent, on returning to the village 
street. As the candidates car left the 
chapel the Parnellite crowd thronged the 
corner by which it must pass ; a battery of 
threatening faces, waiting with unknown 
purpose ; a gauntlet to run or to run away 
from. The car came slowly up the hill, pre- 
ceded by a party of supporteis ; the candidate 
on one side, looking anxious the old priest 
on the other, bare-headed, and looking still 
more anxious, but waving his hand as if in 
greeting, while the interwoven yells became 
a thrilling mass of sound. 

It was well for the candidate that his 
companion was one of the oldest and most 
popular of the Galway priests. That pres- 
tige had shielded the churchyard meeting 
from disturbance, and but for its influence 
now the future M.P. might have returned to 
England with an appearance not advan- 
tageous to the firm of which he was a 
member. A forest of clenched fists and 
sticks seemed to leap up towards him, the 
scream of hatred never took breath, and 



1 98 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

there was entreaty in the face of the priest 
as his wrinkled hands waved repressively 
above the tumult. There was a long 
moment of uncertainty, but in the next the 
car was through in safety, and was gone in 
the twinkling of an eye, the supporters 
running in its wake till the last waving 
gleam of the candidates silk hat had been 
garnered. 

It was then that things began to look, to 
an Irish eye, most promising and attractive. 
The supporters turned, formed into a solid 
body of perhaps forty men and boys, and 
marched with inimitable swagger straight 
back into the crowd, all together, in a kind 

of chant, shouting, " To hell with ! " (the 

rival candidate) at the utmost strength of 
their lungs. The theme was a simple one, 
but magnificently vocalised, and was in- 
stantly replied to in the tu quoque manner 
by the opposite party. Sticks went up, the 
women rushed outwards for safety, looking, 
with their floating shawls, like a flock of 
frightened turkeys ; and at this point the 
four constabulary men who represented that 
force made themselves felt. The dangerous 
moment yielded easily and unresentfully to 



OUT OF HAND 199 

these judicious hands, and the excitement 
sputtered out in a little bragging and 
hustling, without so much as a black eye 
to commemorate it. In half an hour the 
ducks were again waddling in line along 
the empty street, and a muffled hum pro- 
ceeding from the shuttered public houses, 
told that the bond fide travellers had at 
length reached their journey's end. It was a 
lamentable falling off from the days of the 
fish kettles and the mulled port of Kilroy's 
Hotel. 

The episode had expired in the way that 
might have been expected, and was at best 
an indeterminate, shapeless thing, full of 
unripe revolt that it was too childish to 
express. But that moment when the little 
flame first flickers in the gorse, feeling its 
naked way among the thorns and affluent 
blossom, has a wonder of birth in it that is 
forgotten when the blazing hillside jars the 
noonday, and the smoke rolls monotonously 
from strongholds of conflagration. 



A RECORD OF HOLIDAY 



A RECORD OF HOLIDAY 



Of summer holidays it may at least be con- 
tended that they involve two periods of 
undiluted enjoyment ; the time of anticipa- 
tion, and the calm — if sometimes chastened — 
season of retrospect. 

I am glad, now that the mice are nesting in 
my trunks, and the spiders weaving fresh 
straps round my hold-all, that I have been to 
Switzerland, that the greasy Visitors' books 
of several West of Ireland hotels hold my 
name. Also, I remember how very cheerful 
it was to study a scarlet-hued Bradshaw, and 
to reflect that, with certain financial restric- 
tions, the Continent of Europe lay smiling 
before me. (I remember also, that I lent 
that entertaining work to an American friend, 
and found the utmost difficulty in recovering 
it from him. It was only restored, indeed, 



I 



204 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

on the morning of my departure, and my 
friend mentioned that he had sat up all night 
reading it, " Just to see how it ended/' he 
said.) 

Between, however, these seasons of satis- 
faction, there stretches the actual time of 
holiday, and as I reflect upon it, I am struck 
by the fact that its more salient features are 
misfortunes. From a literary point of view 
this has its advantages ; the happy traveller 
has no history. If the converse is true it 
would need Gibbon or Macaulay to deal 
with our transit from the County Cork to 
that Alpine fastness for which we had 
trustingly, fearlessly labelled our luggage. 

It began with fog in the Channel — the 
Irish Channel — solid, tangible fog, through 
which our bewildered steamer stumbled, 
uttering large, desolate cries of distress, 
stopping every now and then to bellow like 
a lost cow, sometimes, even, going astern, 
while muffled hootings told of another 
wanderer who had drawn nearer than was 
convenient. 

" When I heard 'em giving the signal to' go 
astern, "said a sailor officer of high degree, next 
morning, as he gobbled a belated mouthful 



A RECORD OF HOLIDAY 205 

of breakfast, " I thought it was about time to 
get up and put on my clothes. Said nothing 
about it to m' wife, though ! " 

I wonder if he has realised yet why every- 
one smiled. 

In London, rain ; in Paris, blinding heat. 
Dizzily we staggered round the elder Salon, 
and through its innumerable small square 
rooms, with their lining of flagrant canvases ; 
it was like exploring the brain-cells of a fever 
patient in delirium. One healing instant was 
ours, when at the public baths in the Boule- 
vard Mont Parnasse, the waters of a "Bain 
Complet " closed over the exhausted person ; 
but that, even, was speedily poisoned by the 
discovery that towels and soap, being extras, 
were not left in the Cabinet de Bain, and 
the bather, having with dripping hands 
explored the pocket for the needed coins, had 
then to tender them to the attendant through 
a difficult slit of doorway, receiving in 
exchange a small fragment of slightly scented 
marble and a gauze veil. 

After that, the night journey to Geneva. 
Heat, sardine-like proximity of fellow 
travellers, two dauntless English ladies, who 
turned the long night into one unending and 



206 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

clanking tea-party ; a nightmare interlude of 
douaniers, then, when a troubled sleep had at 
length been bestowed, Geneva ; and all the 
horrors that attend the finish of a long train 
journey. 

At breakfast, at our hotel, a survey of 
what we had hitherto endured in the pursuit 
of pleasure stung us to a brief revolt. This 
was a holiday, we told ourselves, why hurry ? 
Fortified by a principle, theoretically un- 
assailable, we strolled about Geneva. It 
was cold and very wet ; still, in our newly 
realised leisure, we made a point of strolling. 
On our return to our hotel most of the staff 
were on the pavement, seemingly very much 
excited. A voiture, laden with our luggage, 
stood at the door. It appeared that our 
steamer left for Villeneuve in eight minutes. 
I imagine that the hotel staff s agitation arose 
from the fear that we should not have time 
to tip them all. This was, alas, unfounded. 

The driver took us first to the wrong 
steamer. He then turned his machine too 
short, and locked the fore carriage. Then he 
shambled across the long bridge to the other 
steamboat qurii, while we sat forward, like 
the coxswains of racing eights, in sweating 



A RECORD OF HOLIDAY 207 

agony, watching our boat getting up steam 
and preparing for instant departure. 

We caught the boat by springing, like 
Spurius Lartius and Herminius, across the 
widening chasm between her deck and the 
shore, and therewith fell into a species of 
syncope. Mists shrouded the mountains ; a 
chilled rain swept the lake. For our parts, 
slowly recovering, we kept the cabin, and 
swept the tea-table. It was almost our first 
moment of enjoyment. 

The Alpine fastness, already alluded to, 
was not gained for a further couple of days, 
during which an awakening distaste for 
Switzerland slowly grew in us, though it did 
not thoroughly mature till mellowed by a 
mule ride up a mountain. Reticence in 
narration is a quality that I endeavour to 
cultivate. It becomes a necessity in treating 
of the village and its surrounding slums from 
and through which our start was made. 
Having, in a state nearing starvation, been 
offered the sole refreshment available, namely, 
concentrated essence of typhoid in the guise 
of glasses of milk, and having retained 
sufficient self-control to refuse them, we 
started on mule-back for the mountain. 



2o8 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

Traversing, as I have every reason to believe, 
the open main drain of the village, our 
animals proceeded to totter up a narrow and 
precipitous watercourse. 

"La vote la phis directed explained the 
mule-driver, lashing his ancient cattle in a 
general way, and without animosity. 

The cloud that accompanied our wander- 
ings, as in the case of the Israelites, did not 
fail of its usual office. Even through the 
crown of a Panama straw hat the rain 
attained to my skin. Thence it descended, 
enveloping me, as it were an inner garment. 
Twice my mule fell down. I could not 
reproach it. Indeed, nothing but the fact 
that one of its parents had been an ass 
explained its readiness to pick itself up and 
go on again. It had, however, an incentive, 
supplied in the rear by its proprietor ; we had 
naught save the fetish of Holiday to goad us 
onward, and its potency was beginning to 
weaken. 

One week of the mountain hotel was as 
much as we were able to endure. The usual 
" exceptional " weather prevailed. How 
familiar is the formula ; and how entirely un- 
worthy of credence ! 



A RECORD OF HOLIDAY 209 

M For seventeen years M — the Landlord 
calls heaven to witness — "it has never been 
so wet, or so cold, or so stormy at this time. 
If Monsieur or Madame, had come but three 
weeks ago — or would wait but three days 
longer " 

There was a time when the glamour of 
holiday might have induced belief, might even 
have beguiled a further endurance of the age- 
long table-dhote repasts, of the aggressive 
muscularity of the English schoolmaster, who, 
during the progress of the minu from the 
watery soup to the acrid Alpine strawberry, 
faced us, boasting at large and in detail ; of the 
German bride, who practised the piano for four 
hours daily (her head upon her bridegroom's 
shoulder, his faithful arm round her waist). 
These things, though unattractive in them- 
selves, might once have been submitted to as 
elements of the theoretical holiday (in 
Switzerland), as mere inevitable crumples in 
the rose-leaf. 

But, on this occasion — it is possibly one of 
the compensations of advancing years — we 
found ourselves endowed with a juster sense 
of proportion. The close of the eighth day 
saw us heading for home with a speed that 



210 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

almost amounted to rout. The mule-driver's 
maxim, " la vote la plus directe" seemed good 
common sense ; we drew neither breath nor 
bridle, Geneva, Paris, London were but 
names in the night, till we found ourselves 
facing America from the front doorstep of 
a certain remote hostelry in the far west of 
Connaught. 

Then, and not till then, did something of 
the largeness, the leisure, the absurdity, the 
unconventionality, that should enter into all 
true holiday, begin for us. 

I have said hostelry, and undoubtedly the 
words " Seaview Hotel,** in letters large and 
green, were inscribed upon its pink-washed 
walls, but without this clue I do not think 
the closest observer would be able to detect 
its walk in life. It had but one storey ; a 
dark and narrow passage led from the 
entrance to the kitchen, and therein, at (as 
subsequent experience showed us) any time 
of the day or night, the entire establishment 
might be found, massed, talking as though 
they had not met for years, and were to 
separate in an hour. 

Thus we, led by our carman, an habitu'e of 
the house, found them, and thus, with but 



A RECORD OF HOLIDAY 211 

brief intervals, they continued during the 
period we spent among them. 

" What is it, Mike ? ■ this to the car-driver 
from a very stout lady, whom we rightly 
assumed to be the proprietress. " Oh — the 
sitting-room," she exhibited a natural annoy- 
ance, having been interrupted in a pronounce- 
ment on, I gathered, the feeding of pigs. 
" Here ! Mary Kate, show the sitting-room ! " 
She re-addressed herself to her subject. 

Mary Kate, a charming slattern with a 
profusion of fair hair, " showed " the sitting- 
room. It was small, but not unclean, and, in 
addition to the normal outfit of table and 
chairs, was remarkably equipped with a large 
double perambulator, whose use as a side- 
board was sufficiently indicated by the fact 
that a cruet stand and a loaf of bread occupied 
one seat, while a piece of cold beef reclined 
on the other. The bedrooms, if I may quote 
a French guide-book's remarks upon the 
retreat of a hermit, " excited I know not 
what emotions of religious terror ; " emotions 
that were not allayed by the suspicion, that 
deepened to certainly, that, in the absence of 
visitors, they were occupied by the staff. 

" Hot wather ? O cerrtdXvAy ! " said Mary 



2i2 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 



Kate, kindly* "Beg your pardon — " she 
crushed past me to the chimney-piece, and 
proceeded to grope behind photograph frames 
and a crowded multitude of glass and china, 
objets dart. " I left me hat pins — " here she 
giggled confidentially, while, so intimate was 
the arrangement of the objets d artythat several 
of them fell off at the farther end of the chim- 
ney piece. " Ah ! what matther ! Sure they're 
all a little broke ! " said Mary Kate, wedging 
them into their places again, and thrusting the 
recovered hat pins into her redundant locks. 
" Ye'll be wanting somethin' to eat now, I dare- 
say," she went on, " I'll send grannema in 
to ye." 

A brief interval ensued, during which we 
furtively examined the bedclothes, and 
indulged in disturbed conjecture as to the 
substance that stuffed the pillows. Their smell, 
though curious, offered no basis for theory. 

There came a creeping sound without, and 
low down, a panel of the door was dealt a 
single blow. 

I said "Come in!" not without a slight 
recurrence of religious terror. 

A very little and ancient woman stood 
there, with the trade marks of soot and 



A RECORD OF HOLIDAY 213 

grease thick upon her. When she curtseyed 
she seemed to merge in the door mat, so 
small was she and so dingy. 

There was reassurance in the discovery 
that she seemed as much in awe of us as we 
of her. 

"How would I know what the likes o' ye 
would fancy ? M she said, almost with despair, 
and went on to hope that our visit might 
prove an education into the ways of the 
aristocracy of which she had long stood in 
need, but she coupled the admission with a 
w r arning that she 11 was very owld and very 
dull" ' 

It was a high responsibility, this position 
of exponents of an unknown type, and it is 
much to be regretted that we were forced to 
leave our venerable disciple under the 
impression that the upper classes usually 
cook their own food at hotels. It should 
here be said that this expedition had not 
been entered upon without a certain fore- 
knowledge of what it was likely to involve, 
and amongst other precautions were pro- 
visions of a portable sort. These included 
sausages, and the sausages we confided to our 
old lady. 



2i4 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

We sat in the parlour enjoying the appetite 
for dinner that is one of the bright features 
of a genuine holiday. After a delay of about 
half an hour, Mary Kate's head was thrust 
through a narrow opening of the door. 

" Grannema says will the little puddings 
be split?" 

Had the answer been Yes, and that it was 
usual to serve them with cream and sugar, I 
feel sure that grandmamma would have com- 
plied. As it was, after instructions to Mary 
Kate, of a lucidity unrivalled by Mrs. Beeton, 
the sausages appeared, pale, tepid, raw, in a 
pie-dish, just a-wash with luke-warm water. 

The holiday appetite quailed at the sight, 
and the chef was summoned from the con- 
versazione still raging in the kitchen. A 
single glance at the guests told her of failure, 
and, with a masterly grasp of the position, 
she hurried back to the kitchen and returned 
with the frying-pan. 

" Keep it now yersels," she said. " Didn't 
I say to ye I was too owld ?" 

From that time the parlour grate led a 
sullied life, but — which may have consoled 
it— a thoroughly useful one. We re-cooked 
the sausages upon it ; the perambulator 



A RECORD OF HOLIDAY 215 

yielded its increase, toast, grilled beef, 
sausages, who could reasonably ask for 
more ? 

We spent two days and two nights there ; 
days of perfect weather, spent in exploring 
a coast as wild and beautiful as the heart of 
holiday maker could desire, nights strangely, 
almost desolately devoid of the entomological 
excursions and pursuits usual to village inns, 
and, in spite of the peculiarities of the 
pillows, sleep was not difficult Or rather, 
in candour it should be said, was difficult 
only after the rising of the sun, For with 
the dawn, a vagrant population was astir in 
the village ; a street Arab community of 
hens, dogs, geese and donkeys, incessant and 
clarion-toned in their addresses to morn and 
to each other ; creatures who slept under 
carts and in stray corners ; who treated life 
as a lounge, and regarded their owners as 
suzerains merely, to whom occasional allegi- 
ance was to be rendered, or a tributary egg 
or two laid in an inaccessible place. 

On the whole, the donkeys are those of 
whom I can speak least temperately. They 
had, for want, possibly, of other employment, 
adopted the position of town-criers to the 



216 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

village, or perhaps were its prophets, perhaps 
its Cassandras, and they uplifted their testi- 
mony from sunrise till nightfall with a 
poignancy that rent the very skies. Standing 
one evening on one of the low hills that 
hemmed the village into its corner by the 
sea, I counted easily, and with half a glance, 
four of these enthusiasts, planted each on a 
commanding rock or mound, and sending 
his wild voice abroad over the valley. It 
was a sunny evening, after a day of sad and 
opalescent beauty, and the sea had brightened 
into blue and silver ; the white-washed gables 
and a far white lighthouse were radiant with 
recovered cheerfulness, but the jackasses 
were as despairful and implacable as Jeremiah. 

There was but one disaster during our 
brief sojourn at the Sea View Hotel. A few 
sausages and a tin of sardines remained, 
" spared," as Mary Kate said, from the first 
repast. These she proposed to store, for 
safety and coolness, in one of our bedrooms. 
The idea not being well received, she finally 
deposited them in the Post Office, which was 
attached to the hotel. But even this hiding 
place was not improbable enough to hood- 
wink that skilled tactician, the hotel cat, and 



A RECORD OF HOLIDAY 217 

he, in some dark hour of the night, found and 
feasted on them with, no doubt, all the 
ravishing joy of a new experience. 

We could not but sympathise with him. 
Thanks to the Sea View Hotel that subtle 
joy was also ours. 

I began by saying that of the Summer 
holidays the times of anticipation and of 
retrospect were the times of truest pleasure. 
Yet I can remember long September days 
beside a sea of Mediterranean blue, the sea of 
Southern Ireland, when the perfect present 
asked nothing of either past or future. The 
long creek wound, blue-green as a peacocks 
breast, between deep woods. High places 
of rock and heather were there, where you 
could lie, " ringed with the azure world," and 
see the huge liners, yes, and hear them too, 
as they went throbbing and trampling along 
the sun's path westward. 

Those who know this place of holiday are 
comparatively few, but there is at least one 
distinguished name of the company — Dean 
Swift, no less. A couple of hundred years 
or so ago, he spent a summer in West 
Carbery, (an ivy-covered ruin, known as 
Swift's Tower, testifies to the fact,) and he 



218 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

forthwith made a poem about it, a Latin 
poem, addressed to the Rocks of Carbery. 

One gathers that it was of the nature of an 
encomium, though the points selected for 
description are not those that would tempt 
the effete holiday maker of to-day. Possibly 
it was the Deans majestic eighteenth-century 
manner of thanking his host for "a very 
pleasant visit. " I came upon it in the house 
of a descendant of that host, reverently 
quoted in a copy of Dr. Smith's history of the 
County Cork, dated 1749. Thanks to the 
sympathetic scholarship of a contemporary 
divine, the Revd. Dr. Donkin, who made a 
translation of it, I am able to give some 
quotations from it. Dr. Smith thinks that 
"the Deans descriptions are as just as his 
numbers are beautiful." It is not for me to 
disagree with him. Let them — or some of 
them — dignify these unworthy pages. 

" Lo ! From the top of yonder cliff, that shrouds 
Its airy head amidst the azure clouds, 
Hangs the huge fragment, destitute of props, 
Prone on the waves the rocky ruin drops. 
• • • ♦ • 

Oft too with hideous yawn, the cavern wide 
Presents an orifice on either side ; 



A RECORD OF HOLIDAY 219 

A dismal orifice, from sea to sea 
Extended, pervious to the god of day, 

• • • • c 

High on the cliff their nests wild pigeons make, 
And sea calves stable in the oozey lake . . . 
When o'er the craggy steep without controul, 
Big with the blast, the raging billows roll, . . . 
The neighbouring race, tho' wont to brave the shocks 
Of angry seas and run along the rocks, 
Now pale with terror, while the ocean foams, 
Fly far and wide, nor trust their native homes. 
The goats, while pendant from the mountain top, 
The wither'd herb improvident they crop, 
Wash'd down the precipice with sudden sweep, 
Leave their sweet lives beneath th' unfathomed deep." 

I am sorry to say that in these degenerate 
times the improvident goat has lost his 
ancient skill and is no longer pendant, and 
the oozey lake and stabling sea calf (the 
latter possibly a lingering survivor of the 
Deluge) may no more be found. None the 
less, I can confidently commend the scenes 
of these catastrophes to the holiday maker 
of to-day. 

Even now, when the sunshine of last 
September has faded to a memory, and that of 
next September is too far away to be even a 
hope, I can still feel the soft lift of the 
western wind, still hear the booming of the 
waves in the deep and riven heart of the cliff. 



LOST, STOLEN, OR STRAYED 



LOST, STOLEN, OR STRAYED 



" I couldn't find your apron, Ma'am," said 
the 11 Why not," imported a month before, 
with bare feet and a forelock like a Shetland 
pony. She belonged to the drift-weed of the 
household, and would, perhaps, now be 
ranked as a " tweeny M ; her class derived its 
title from its genial habit of replying 14 Why 
not ? " to any given order, without considering 
or knowing whether such were its business. 
The " Why not " was at present flushed with 
long search, and with that sub-resentment 
and assumption of being suspected that all 
servants run up like a flag when valuables 
are missing. 

"There isn't one in the house, but I'm 
afther axing about it. It must be it was 
waylaid." 

It may scarcely be necessary to explain 



324 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

that she meant mislaid, but in her limited 
skill in English she had expressed the real 
trend of the things in the establishment. 
They were not, as a rule, lost, nor in the 
strict sense of the word were they stolen ; 
they were waylaid, snatched from their own 
walk of life and applied to some pressing 
necessity of the moment. The apron might 
have been taken to clean a bicycle, or to stay 
the flow of spilt ink, or to bandage the foals 
leg, and the "Why not" probably had been 
a party to its fate. 

It is on record that in past ages a punt, 
used by the master for his own pleasure, was 
waylaid after it had been suitably laid up in 
the coach-house for the winter. When 
Spring came, and the time of the singing of 
birds and the painting of boats set in, the 
punt was not. 

It was "gone this long time ;" it was "as 
rotten as that the boards was falling out of it 
undher the peoples feet. ,, "You couldn't 
tell what thim women in the laundhry would 
catch hold of when they'd be short of fire, 
an' God knows a person's heart would be 
broke that'd have to be lookin' for sticks for 
them." 



LOST, STOLEN, OR STRAYED 225 

Having arrived at the fact that his boat 
had been burned, the Master yielded to the 
inevitable. 

M Begad ! M he said, regarding the culprits 
through his spectacles, " I believe you'd burn 
myself if I'd light I" 

The march of education has merely added 
scope to the art of waylaying. We have in 
the West of Ireland " heavy showers and 
showers in between," as an old woman put 
it when describing a wet day. In the course 
of one of the in-betweens a party from the 
Big House took refuge in a wayside cabin, 
and although it is not desirable or polite 
to observe too curiously the environment in 
wayside cabins, a glimpse of a green morocco- 
bound volume on a shelf, between a salt- 
herring and a hair-brush was too much for 
the visitors good breeding. Averting our eyes 
from the hair-brush we identified the volume 
as a copy of Byron's " Marino Faliero," which 
had long since disappeared from the drawing- 
room book-case in which it had been wont to 
stand in the decorous neglect which, I 
imagine, is not uncommonly its portion. 

No one knew anything about the book. 
It had apparently flown like a storm-beaten 



226 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

bird to the cabin door, and, out of pure 
compassion, was given house room. From 
internal evidence it would seem to have 
inspired considerable interest in a family of 
the name of Sweeny, whose autographs 
profusely adorned its wide margins. Later 
on we heard that one, Patsey Sweeny, when 
dying, had asked for the solace of a book. 
The Big House had been applied to for 
something suitable. We shall never know 
what influenced the 14 Why not " in her 
selection of 44 Marino Faliero ; " we shall 
never know anything in that, or in any 
similar matter, with any certainty, but we do 
not expect certainty in the West of Ireland. 
41 Marino Faliero " returned to its fellows, 
importing a rich odour of tobacco and turf 
smoke, but otherwise, unfortunately, dumb to 
its adventures. 

Subsequently a daughter of the house of 
Sweeny showed much aptitude in the art of 
waylaying. A Confirmation was in prospect 
at the chapel, at which Miss Julia Sweeny, 
aged eleven, was to be presented as a 
candidate, the occasion requiring that she 
should be dressed in purest white from her 
oily curls to her nimble and naked feet. 




PATSEY SWEENY 



MRS. SWEENY 



LOST, STOLEN, OR STRAYED 227 

When the day of transformation arrived, the 
Young Ladies from the Big House turned 
out to view it, and as the candidate knelt in 
angelic decorum in the chapel, the youngest 
of the Young Ladies made the gratifying 
discovery that her new white canvas tennis 
shoes were on the feet of Miss Sweeny. On 
such a day it would have been a gross want 
of taste to have mentioned the matter, and 
that evening the tennis shoes re-appeared 
unostentatiously in their owner's room. No 
comment was made on either side, but with 
the sensitive perception of the clinical thermo- 
meter, the Sweeny family remained invisible 
for several weeks, after which Mrs. Sweeny 
arrived with a score of eggs as a present for 
the youngest Young Lady, and both sides 
felt that a disagreeable estrangement had 
been handsomely closed. 

The adventures of the Gravy Spoon were 
of the simpler household variety, inexplicable, 
disconnected, yet following in a certain order 
a track familiar to all Irish householders. 
The gravy spoon was antique, slender of 
curve, and delicately ornamented along its 
graceful handle. Every servant connected 
with the spoon will now testify that the 



228 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

handle was cracked from the day it was 
made. One even asserts that "When ye'd 
strike it agin anything there'd be a roaring 
in it," which, of course, leaves no more to be 
said. That its prolonged absence from the 
table should have been unnoticed was well 
in the character of things : several months, in 
fact, passed before the lady of the house ob- 
served the cook skimming cream with a singu- 
lar and dwarfish weapon, which proved to be 
the bowl and one inch of the handle of the 
gravy spoon. The explanation opened with 
the formula, u Sure that was broke always," 
followed almost inevitably by the statement 
that " it was broke when the young gentlemen 
was home." From the mouth of a third 
witness came the information that " Master 
Lionel broke it one day at luncheon helping 
curry." History was silent as to the compo- 
sition of this remarkable curry. The cook 
entered no protest. Memory was not at any 
time her strongest point, judging at least 
from her own guileless confession on one of 
the many occasions when dinner was very late. 

" Sure I mislaid the pudding, and there I 
was hunting the house for it, and where 
would it be afther all but in the oven ! " 



LOST, STOLEN, OR STRAYED 229 

The search for the keys was, of course, a 
mere commonplace of every day. The store- 
room was carefully locked up, and the bunch, 
an enormous and for the most part obsolete 
collection, was then taken severely upstairs 
and secreted. The next event was, usually, 
the departure beyond ken or call of the person 
who had secreted the keys, followed, at a 
greater or less interval, by the crisis when 
they became essential to the progress of 
things, by the opening scenes of the hunt, 
and its gradual broadening to full cry through- 
out the house. During this part of the 
comedy the servants, who were perfectly ac- 
quainted with every known hiding-place, re- 
mained coldly intent on their business, and 
the hunters deferred as long as possible the 
humiliating moment when their co-operation 
must be invited. When it came, the keys 
came with it. 

To the lost and strayed the ashpit in the 
yard occasionally offered harbourage, where, 
among the hot turf ashes and evil smells, 
oblivion came quickly. Sometimes, when 
search ran high, as lately in the case of three 
errant postal orders, the ashpit was placed 
under martial law, and yielded strange spoils 



2 3 o SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

to its inquisitors. Instead of the postal 
orders came forth in the first instance a 
letter, dated 1805, fr° m an historical person- 
age, once Chief Justice of Ireland. The 
letter itself, in remarkably good preservation, 
described in choice and flowing English a 
fortnight spent in Bath, an experience in 
remarkable contrast to the ashpit. The 
second trophy was a cheque for eight pounds, 
recent and uncashed. The third was a tea 
cosy, of old gold and peacock blue satin, 
somewhat scorched by turf ashes, but new, 
and preserving in its quilted interior the label 
with which it emerged from its parent bazaar. 
There was other booty of an inconsiderable 
sort, but the postal orders were not found. 
The net result of the investigation was that 
every servant in the house hovered on the 
verge of giving warning, till the day when 
the postal orders arrived as stowaways in a 
letter from South Africa. The writer made 
no mention of their presence in the envelope, 
nor has he since been able to account for it, 
nor, to this hour, has any reasonable theory 
been brought forward to explain their wan 
derings. 

Lest any hasty judgment should here be 



LOST, STOLEN, OR STRAYED 231 

formed as to the conduct of Irish households, 
it is well to mention that other households, 
not Irish, have had experiences as remark- 
able. 

A family of my acquaintance, blameless in 
domestic life and even notable in virtue, has 
established what must be, I think, a singular 
renown at Scotland Yard in the matter of 
lost valuables. During a stay of two nights 
under that hospitable roof, three several and 
severe disasters passed like winds through 
the establishment, causing much mental and 
physical stress, and a vast amount of cab 
hire. 

The first was the loss of a diamond star, 
to recover which Scotland Yard, much con- 
cerned, put forth detectives and established 
a network of theories. It was subsequently 
found under the owners bed. The second 
was less showy but more acute, a purse lost 
while shopping. Scotland Yard (not perhaps 
without a memory of the diamond star) was 
guarded, but still sympathetic. Several 
purses had been brought in ; would the 
owner describe hers ? The owner now asks 
us to believe that on being confronted with 
this question she found herself unable to 



232 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

remember what her purse was like. Then 
perhaps she could mention the sum of money 
it contained ? Lamentable to relate, on this 
point also memory was a blank. After so 
flagrant a breakdown the ordinary individual 
would have ended the interview in the lock- 
up, but the claimant of the purse, in addition 
to being young and lovely, was by no means 
ordinary. As a matter of fact she was in- 
vited to try again, and this time was enabled 
to say that she believed the purse had a hole 
in it. Further details of the interview were 
withheld, but we were given to understand 
that though the purse was not restored, the 
excellent relations with the officials remained 
unimpaired. 

The third catastrophe was the loss of a 
dressing-bag, containing much of value, and 
forgotten, in the customary way, in a cab. 
This was a trifling matter ; a mere occasion 
for a morning call at Scotland Yard, where 
the officials, with the special and protective 
smile reserved for this family, produced the 
bag. It was taken airily home in a hansom, 
its recovery was announced to an admiring 
luncheon table, and the peculiar success of 
the family with Scotland Yard was discussed. 



LOST, STOLEN, OR STRAYED 233 

11 But where is the bag ? 11 

And even with the words came the grey 
dawn of the discovery that the bag had once 
more been left in the hansom. 

To follow the subsequent events would be 
an unkindness. It is enough to indicate that 
even Scotland Yard and its special smile were 
on this occasion of no avail. 

To lose things by accident is, as we all 
know, calamitously easy, to lose them de- 
signedly is not only difficult but takes nerve 
and, at the right moment, want of principle. 

There was once a red silk parasol, of the 
genus known to the trade as an en totit cas, 
which, literally translated, meant that in 
sunny weather it was cumbrous and heavy, 
and that during showers it wept tears of 
indelible maroon upon its possessor. It 
passed through an unloved youth into an 
abhorred middle age, with a crooked nose, a 
swelled handle, and a mottled complexion, 
unfit for society, yet not sufficiently decayed 
for a jumble sale. I and another went to 
Dublin for a week, and on starting found 
that the red umbrella had been put on the car 
by the servants, who held it in high esteem. 
We did not give it a thought; it would, of 



234 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

course, return upon the car to its lair in the 
back hall. As the train moved out into sun- 
light the red umbrella revealed itself, looming 
upon us through the netting where a careful 
porter had placed it. Not as yet recognising 
the hand of Fate, we lightly regarded it, and 
determining that it should be left in the 
train, straightway forgot its existence until 
an equally attentive porter placed it respect- 
fully in our cab in Dublin. Had we kept 
our heads we should have offered it to him, 
murmuring something about having no 
change. Like most inspirations, this, un- 
fortunately, did not occur to us till some five 
minutes later, but it suggested the idea of 
giving it to a housemaid, and on this under- 
standing it accompanied us to our destination. 
During a week it disgraced our host's 
umbrella stand, and during that week we 
discovered that the housemaid, who, from 
the first, was quelling, was a Plymouth 
Sister, and would probably have regarded 
such a gift as an attempt to sap her religious 
convictions. * When, on departure, it was 
deliberately forgotten, it was the Plymouth 
Sister who snatched it from the umbrella 
stand and breathlessly hurled it into our cab. 



LOST, STOLEN, OR STRAYED 235 

It was obvious that to throw it out of the 
window in streets crowded with traffic would 
merely have involved a heavy fee to an inevit- 
able rescuer ; we reserved it for the window of 
the train, confidently, even enjoyably. Yet, 
such was its inveteracy, in the train the 
spell of forgetfulness again held us. The 
moments when it was remembered were 
precisely when the train stopped at stations, 
or the windows were blocked with fellow 
passengers, who would probably have pulled 
the communication cord to retrieve it. As 
we neared the long bridge of Athlone a 
final resolve was made. The network of big 
girders glided by, the broad Shannon glittered 
far below. The red umbrella shot like a spear 
through the girders and dropped out of sight. 
" So flashed and fell the brand Excalibur — " 
The train crept into Athlone Station and 
there entered upon a prolonged wait among 
roomy and silent platforms. We exulted at 
leisure over the red umbrella. A hurrying 
foot was distantly heard ; doors opened and 
shut in rapid succession down the length of 
the train. We disinterred our tickets. The 
door of our carriage was opened and a heated 
boy put in his face. 



236 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

" Did anny one here lose a red umbrella ? " 
It was the supreme moment in a duel with 
Destiny. 

I replied to his question with a firm and 
simple negative. 



CHILDREN OF THE CAPTIVITY 



CHILDREN OF THE CAPTIVITY 



The road to Connemara lies white across 
the memory, white and very quiet. In that 
far west of Galway, the silence dwells pure 
upon the spacious country, away to where 
the Twelve Pins make a gallant line against 
the northern sky. It comes in the heathery 
wind, it borrows peace from the white cottage 
gables on the hill side, it is accented by the 
creeping approach of a turf cart, rocking 
behind its thin grey pony. Little else stirs, 
save the ducks that sail on a wayside pool to 
the push of their yellow propellers ; away 
from the road, on a narrow oasis of arable 
soil, a couple of women are digging potatoes ; 
their persistent voices are borne on the 
breeze that blows warm over the blossoming 
boglands and pink heather. 

Scarcely to be analysed is that fragrance of 



24© SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

Irish air; the pureness of bleak mountains is 
in it, the twang of turf smoke is in it, and 
there is something more, inseparable from 
Ireland's green and grey landscapes, wrought 
in with her bowed and patient cottages, her 
ragged walls, and eager rivers, and intelligible 
only to the spirit. 

Over in England there are clustered 
cottages half buried in rich meadows, covered 
with roses to the edge of their mellow roof 
tiles, shaded by venerable and venerated 
trees, pleasant resting-places for the memory. 
From one of them comes forth a mild-faced 
elderly woman in a mushroom hat, the 
embodiment of respectability and hard work. 
If you talk to her you will be impressed by 
her sincerity, her reticence, her reverence for 
cleanliness, and further, as the conversation 
progresses, by her total lack of humour, and 
her conscientious recital of details not 
essential to the story. You will admire and 
like her, and she will bore you ; so will her 
husband, with the serious face and sober blue 
eyes, and you will be ashamed of being 
bored. 

Approach one of these lonely cottages on 
a Connemara road, and you will find it 



IN A LONELY COTTAGE 



CHILDREN OF THE CAPTIVITY 241 

crooked without quaintness, clumsy, dirty, 
distressful ; yet there will come forth to you 
round the manure-heaps in front of the door 
a human being, probably barefooted, and 
better skilled in Irish than in English, who 
will converse with you in the true sense of 
the word, that is to say, with give and take, 
with intuition, and with easy and instant 
sense of humour. While you talk to her you 
can observe two elderly women in red petti- 
coats and black cloaks advancing on the long 
road from Galway, carrying heavy baskets 
from the market : their eyes are quick, their 
faces clearly cut and foreign-looking. Were 
it in your power to listen to what they are 
saying, you would be entertained as you have 
seldom been, by highly seasoned gossip, 
narrative, both humorous and tragic, and 
wide and exhaustive criticism. A cart 
lumbers by, loaded with men and women, 
their teeth, one would say, loosened in their 
heads by the clattering and jolting, but their 
flow of ideas and language unshaken. The 
two women in the cloaks have arrived at a 
juncture at which they must stand still in the 
ecstasy of the story ; the narrator shoots out 
a spike of a thumb, and digs her auditor in 

Q 



2 4 2 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

the chest to barb the point of the jest as it is 
delivered. The recipient swings backward 
from the waist with a yell of appreciation, 
they hitch their cloaks on their shoulders, and 
enter on the Committee stage of the affair as 
they move on again. 

One might safely say that this bare and 
still country carries an amount of good talk, 
nimble, trenchant, and humorous, to the 
square mile, that the fat and comfortable 
plains of England could never rival. It has 
been so for centuries, and all the while the 
sons and daughters of Connemara have 
remained aloof and self-centred, hardly even 
aware of the marching life of England, least 
of all aware that Ireland holds the post of 
England's Court Jester. Others of their 
countrymen, more sophisticated, more astute, 
probably less agreeable, have not been slow 
to realise it. Perhaps they would have 
refused the Cap and Bells had they known 
the privilege entailed. 

" As for our harps," said the Children of 
the Captivity, " we hanged them up upon 
the trees that are therein." That was when 
the songs of Zion were required of them in 
the strange land, and the strong Euphrates 



CHILDREN OF THE CAPTIVITY 243 

saw their tears. The sympathy of all 
the centuries has been theirs for that 
poignant hour ; yet, as far as can be known, 
they were spared an extremer pang. It is 
nowhere recorded that the people of the 
strange land made any attempt to sing the 
songs of Zion to the Children of Israel. 

When the Children of Erin hang up their 
harps in the Babylon of to-day, the last 
thing they wish to emulate is that passionate 
silence of the Israelites. They hang them 
up as those do who enter in and possess the 
land, and the songs of Zion have not faltered 
on their lips. A captive race they may be, 
but their national desire to 11 take the floor n 
has remained unshaken. They have dis- 
covered that an Irish brogue has a market 
value, and the songs of Zion have gone 
through many editions and held many 
audiences, since the days when Tom Moore 
exploited his country in London drawing- 
rooms. The moment of bitterness is when 
the English become fired with the notion of 
singing them for themselves. 

Perhaps it comes about from English love 
of a theory, especially an hereditary theory, 
that has been handed down to them, well- 



244 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

thumbed by preceding generations. They 
have established a theory for the Irish, 
and particularly and confidently for Irish 
humour, and from owning the theory there 
is but a step to becoming proprietors also 
of the humour. Myself, when young, was 
nourished upon a work named " Near Home," 
and in the edition current at the time, I 
remember that the Irish were indulgently 
described as "a merry people, and fond of 
pigs." The hereditary theory could hardly 
have been better summarised. The average 
Englishman owns an Irish story or two, and 
is genially certain of his ability to tell it, 
with all necessary embellishment of accent 
and expression. As often as possible he 
tells it to an Irishman. 

Elusive as running water is the brogue 
of the Irish peasant; hardly attained even 
by those who have known its tune from 
childhood. They, at least, know how it 
ought to be, and with this knowledge in 
their hearts, they have to sit in dreary sub- 
mission while the stage Irishman convulses 
the English audience ; they must smile, 
however galvanically, when friends, other- 
wise irreproachable, regale them with the 



CHILDREN OF THE CAPTIVITY 245 

Irish story in all its stale exuberance of Pat 
and the Pig, or expound for their benefit 
that epitome of vieux jeu, the Saxon con- 
ception of an Irish Bull. 

As to Irish Bulls, it could be explained, 
were it of any avail, that they convey a 
finer shade of meaning than the downright 
English language will otherwise admit of. 

M If ye were to be killed crossing a fence 
ye'd be all right ! " said a looker-on to one 
whose horse had turned head over heels in 
the middle of a level pasture, " but if ye 
were killed on the flat o' the field ye'd never 
hold up your head again ! " 

Here was the effort of the true im- 
pressionist to create an effect regardless of 
the means. 

" Jerry was a grand man. When he'd be 
idle itself he'd be busy ! " 

Had the author of this commendation 
merely said that Jerry's industry was un- 
ceasing, he would have been unassailable as 
to diction, but he would have left his 
audience cold. It is a melancholy fact that 
the English mind contrives to miss the 
artist's intention, and fastens unalterably on 
the obvious contradiction of terms. 



246 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

As in converse, so, and with deeper 
disaster, is it in literature. There is scarcely 
a week in the life of the English comic 
papers that is guiltless of some heavy- handed 
caricature of Irish humour, daubed with false 
idiom and preposterous spelling, secure in its 
consciousness of being conventional. It is 
better to accuse a man of having broken a 
commandment than to tell him that his sense 
of humour appears to you defective, so, leaving 
that branch of the subject open, I will only 
mention that there are alive many excellent 
people who will never, on this side of the 
grave, be convinced that the Irish peasant 
does not say " indade " for " indeed," 
" belave " for " believe, 99 or " swape 99 for 
" sweep." Inborn and ingrained knowledge of 
such points is essential ; if, among many 
anomalies, a rule can be found, it seems to be 
that in an Irish brogue the diphthong "ea" 
changes to "a," as in " say" for "sea," while 
the double e remains untampered with ; thus 
you might hear a person say " I was very 
wake last week." 

Writers of fiction have done much that is 
painful in dealing with Irish people. 
Thackeray's Captain Costigan spoke like a 



CHILDREN OF THE CAPTIVITY 247 

stage edition of a Dublin car-driver, which is 
not what one would expect in a gentleman 
who, according to his own account, " bore his 
Majesty's Commission in the foighting 
Hundtherd and Third," and his introduction 
of Arthur Pendennis as "a person of refoined 
moind, emiable manners, and a sinsare lover 
of poethry " is not convincing or even very 
amusing. It is strange that the error of 
making Irish ladies and gentlemen talk like 
their servants should to this hour have a fas- 
cination for novelists. It is not so very long 
since that, in a magazine, I read of a high- 
born Irish Captain of Hussars, who, in 
a moment of emotion, exclaimed : " Howly 
Mither av Hiven! " 

Dealing with present day writers is 
treading on delicate ground, and it is with 
diffidence that one arraigns one of the most 
enthralling of living story-tellers. Few of 
his works have been more popular than 
M Soldiers Three," yet to me and others of 
my country, it is the narratives of Private 
Mulvany that give least pleasure. M Gurl " 
for girl, " Thimber " for timber, and " Quane " 
for Queen, are conventions that have 
unfortunately proved irresistible ; they are 



248 SOME IRISH YESTERDAYS 

taken from a random page or two, and there 
is no page free of such. 

But, after all, right or wrong, pronunciation 
and spelling are small things in the present- 
ment of any dialect. The vitalising power is 
in the rhythm of the sentence, the turn of 
phrase, the knowledge of idiom, and of, 
beyond all, the attitude of mind. A laborious 
system of spelling exasperates the reader, 
jades the eye, and fails to convince the ear. 
If, in illustration, I again quote Mr. Kipling, 
it is because of the conspicuousness of his 
figure in literature ; he can afford to occupy 
the position of target, indifferent alike to miss 
or bull's-eye. 

Stripped of its curious and stifling 
superfluities of spelling, a sentence of 
Mulvaney's runs thus : [ 

" Oh, boys, they were more lovely than 
the like of any loveliness in heaven ; ay, 
their little bare feet were better than the 
white hands of a Lords lady, and their 
mouths were like puckered roses, and their 
eyes were bigger and darker than the eyes 
of any living women I've seen." j 

With the exception of " the like " there 
is nothing in the wording of this panegyric 



CHILDREN OF THE CAPTIVITY 249 

that would even suggest it had been uttered 
by an Irishman. To stud the page with "ut" 
and "av" instead of "it" and "of " is of no 
avail. Irish people do not say these things ; 
there is a sound that is a half-tone between 
the two, not to be captured by English 
voices, still less by English vowels. The 
shortcoming is, of course, trivial to those 
who do not suffer because of it, but want of 
perception of word and phrase and turn of 
thought means more than mere artistic 
failure, it means want of knowledge of the 
wayward and shrewd and sensitive minds 
that are at the back of the dialect. 

The very wind that blows softly over 
brown acres of bog carries perfumes and 
sounds that England does not know : the 
women digging the potato-land are talking 
of things that England does not understand. 
The question that remains is whether 
England will ever understand. 



SLIPPER'S A B C OF 
FOX-HUNTING 




11 B is for Buck. 

Your best howlt is the spurs, 
And make sure they're dhruv home 
When ye're goin' through furze." 




M C is for Check. 

If ye go any faster 
Ye'll be apt to be dhrawn into chat, 
With the Master.'' 



> was the Dhrain that the fox got inside in. 
Bad luck to the cowardly shkamer for hidin 




1 E came from England, and wanted no guide. 
Now he s laming the lie o' the bogs, 
From inside ! 




" F is Full Cry. 

And it's hard to say which 
This lad or the hounds 

Lets the powerfullest screech ! " 




G stands for Geese. 

Look at Gollagher now, 
And himself in the thick of a Family Row ! " 




> 



H is for Horn. 

The few that can blow it 
Are born to the thrick, 

Just the same as a poet ! " 




t 



44 1 is meself. 

No great shakes, as you see, 
But there's more than one gerr'l 
Is wishin' for me ! " 




" J is Jog Home. 

A dhry misht from the say 
Very often comes on, 
Just to soften the way ! ' 




' K is the Kick that killed Kinahane dead. 
I'd be sorry to mention 
The words that he said ! " 




; M is the Master, " And L is the Lep 

Blaspheemious ot habit ; That he threw in the passion. 

If you would catch hardship Be cripes ! But thim dogs 

Cheer hounds to a rabbit ! Got their 'nough of a thrashin' ! " 




11 N was a Nanny-goat up on the hill. 
Faith ! Some o' thim puppies 
Is hunting her still ! " 



u O's the Obstackle 

Tim met in the way. 
But the mare being free 
He got no great delay." 




4 * P was the Price of a nate little hin (that's Q) 

That the foxes ate over and over agin. I'll back Biddy Burke 
And bedad ! if it comes to a Quarrel, To out-hucksther a Jew ! ' 



R is for River. " And S was the Saxon 

Young Reilly kept cool. That gave him the warning. 

If ye give him fair warning I'm thinkin' he'll hardly be dhry 

Young Reilly's no fool. Before morning." 




;> T is a Tenant " And U s the Umbrella 
About to vacate That spilt the poor fella. 

The site once well filled by his What call have owld women 
Family Sate. To want an Umbrella?" 



T 



V's the Vet. 

A nate surgeon, he'll ' knife it and chance it ' 
And he'll 1 cut out the work ' 

Without using his lancet ! " 



' Here's the Wrecker, and Earth Stopper, 
Bowld Willy Roche. 
Sure they say a fried .egg's the one thing 
He can't poach ! " 




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